Keys to a Successful Training Program and Coach Relationship
Many factors will affect the effectiveness of your relationship with your coach and your success in reaching your fitness goals. While natural talent and the training itself play important roles in athletic success, many other details can impact how your coach is able to help you. Over the years we’ve found that following the suggestions below will help you to have a positive experience with coaching and to reach your goals.
When starting up with a new coach and program:
- Tell your coach your personal and event schedules as soon as you know them. That includes available training hours, days off from work, busy family days, vacations, available group rides, and other plans in addition to your prioritization of races and event seasons.
- Share your training journals, previous data files and previous training plans. The more he or she knows about patterns that have or haven’t worked for you in the past, the better your coach can direct your training for the future.
- Inform your coach of where your goals fit into your life priorities. How do training and events compare with family, job and other commitments amongst your priorities? Keep your coach informed when any of these priorities change as well.
- Garner your immediate family’s support for your goals. Those with immediate support are much more likely to achieve their goals.
- Trust in the coaching; and when you don’t, ask questions.
- Communicate with your coach at least weekly, whether things are going well or poorly, even if it’s just a quick hello. Schedule this time as you would any other appointment.
- Update your training journal regularly. Weekly at minimum.
- Check with your coach when you may need to veer from the program or if you had to change things for any reason.
- Getting tired or feeling like you need a break? Tell your coach ASAP so adjustments can be made before you lose fitness or motivation.
- Alert your coach immediately when you feel like you are getting sick. NOW, not three days down the road. Many athletes will actually hide an illness, worrying that they’ll somehow “lose out” on training if they confess to not feeling well. Meanwhile, they may drive themselves into a fatigue hole requiring longer recovery. The sooner your coach knows what’s going on, the sooner corrections can be made that will get you back on track.
- Note any hint of injury or ongoing soreness. Many pains are related to bike fit or movement patterns. Repeated long enough, they become lasting injuries. Corrected quickly, they may disappear without any lasting effect.
- Talk it over with your coach when you are considering changing something significant in your diet or have a disturbance in resting patterns. Stopping drinking coffee? It will affect the way you feel for a time. Let your coach know. Considering trying a particular supplement? Talk it over with your coach. Not sleeping well? Make note of it in your training journal.
- Keep your coach apprised of all the stresses in your life, not just those associated with training. Though you don’t have to tell your coach every aspect of your life, the more he or she is aware of the things that demand your time and cause you stress, the better the program can take those items into consideration and plan within and around them. Happenings such as new home purchases, babies, divorces and lost loved ones are major game changers and have time, energy and stress demands that need to be accounted for in a training plan.
- Tell your coach if you are considering a new bike, shoes or other major purchases. He or she may have advice on the suitability of some equipment for your specific goals or even experience with particular tools or brands.
Overall, use this list to get you thinking about the important aspects of your life and how they affect your time and energy demands. Where does the training for your fitness and event goals fit into your life? Look also to how you’ve handled illness or injury in the past. Are there areas for better communication with your coach? In endurance sports where races are often won or lost by close percentages, the little things matter.