Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who's your (Coaching) Daddy?

The picture above is when I met Crowie in Kona and in now way is he my Dad (had to add this comment because I know Bryan, http://www.trainingpayne.blogspot.com/ will have something to say about it. haha).

I only uploaded this picture with my question in mind: Do you need a coach (even if you are world champion)

Since IMSA I've been thinking about coaches and who's being coached by who.

Talking to so many Triathletes and reading blog posts and websites I see something of everything. Some people coach themselves, others get by using generic programs from the Internet and others have coaches. And then you get different type of coaches and different type of packages depending on the experience and knowledge of the coach.

Looking at all of this it can be very confusing and hard to decide which way to go. At what time in your Triathlon career/lifestyle do you start making use of a coaching service and at what time do you stop making use of a coach, which I don't think is a wise idea!

I basically started out by just reading up on websites and using generic triathlon training plans off the Internet. Just to get the feel for what to do, how much and when. But with our wonderful www. out there you can get confused so easily.

After a while I joined Triangle Sport (organizers of Ironman South Africa), which training department was back then run by James Cunnama, a professional triathlete with some awesome results lately. This was the first time I had the experience of being "coached"

After completing my first IM, I decided to look for something else and after browsing the web I came across Mark Allen Online, http://www.markallenonline.com/ I joined them and it's been always two years that I train on the Mark Allen Online principles. It works for me.

The method they use is awesome and after getting used to the "new" way of training I found it very helpful. With their guidance I went from a 11h55 Ironman to a 10h10 Ironman. To best describe the way they coach, I would suggest go their website.

After Ironman South Africa this year I asked myself the question, will a coach make a difference, in my case to get to a sub 10 hour Ironman or get on the podium from where I am now, or am I just as good as my genes, and no matter how hard I train or whoever is my coach, I will only improve to a certain level and then I won't improve any further. Is it possible to, if I can call it "Waste your money on a coach" as you don't have the potential or ability to improve any more.

I think a coach is there to help you perform at your best but at the end the result will depend on your ability no matter who's your coach

And I refer again to my personal situation. Will a coach take me from a 10h10 Ironman to a 9h30 Ironman ( which is the time to do to get onto the podium in our age group) or is it just not possible for my body to get there, due to lack of talent ?

Now my question: Who's your coach?

Today's Training:
Run: 25min, 5.5km, did not wear heart rate monitor, just went for an easy relaxed run.


  1. I have to say as a first timer I never thought twice about a coach. And Mark Allen Online has done wonders. Is a 10hr IM in my future, who knows, but I do know I've learned a lot so far!

  2. Great question Johan! I am on the 'self-caoch' train for my first IM effort. So far following a methodoligy that is proving to give results. However, as I continue on this crazy IM journey, I truly beleive getting the best out of yourself is only done through the help of 'profeesionals' at the IM level! Hopefully in 2 years I wil sahre with you that awesome results change! Cheers, welcome back to the training wagon!

  3. This is a great post Johan and I'm anxious to hear people's comments on this. For me, someone that just wants to finish (and lose weight in the process), MAO would probably be more than I need but I completely agree about how confusing it can be to get info online. I have joined a website and downloaded a program but I often feel like I am missing something.

    I am thankful for people like you and Bryan as you are always there to answer my questions and provide exceptional support. And I will continue to ponder the question "Do I need a coach?"

  4. Johan-
    Having never done a Triathlon I hardly feel like I have the knowledge or experience to say anything!!!
    what I am doing so far...
    I am 4 months into my Tri journey. In January a friend gave me the book "Triathlete Training Bible"..lots of good info but way too technical for me, I couldnt stay with it.

    I then found training blogosphere!! I started at the beginning of training payne's blog and documented a spreadsheet of his daily training. I feel like I should get some sort of award for that!!! hahaha - j/k it was Incredibly valuable.

    You, Bryan and many others that blog have helped me immensly. I doubt I would be on as good a path as I feel like I am on right now, today, having read all of your experiences online. Thank you for that!

    I am now trying to follow his HIM schedule he did for Orlando 70.3 in 2008 for my HIM in July.

  5. Rodney
    Agree with you, if you are serious about IM, MAO is the way to go.

  6. John
    Thanks feel good to be back. I also started out my doing my own thing, nothing wrong with that. Good luck with your IM jouney and I can't wait for you o finish that IM.

  7. Adena
    I think if you want something just to start some programs as you say may be just to "technical" I went the self help route at first and I don't think it is the wrong way. But as you say somedays you have that feeling or need to talk to a coach which the online programs don't offer.

    Glad if some of my comments can help you on your journey

    I've been from generic to coach and I still ask the question, do i need a coach, Difficult one

  8. Derek
    Brilliant idea of yours, just hope B doesn't see this, he may charge you.
    I must agree the blogosphere is great. When I started I didn't know about it and had to learn the hard way, trial and error. That's what sparked this question as I've been know self trained and with a coach and I still wonder some days.

    Think the important thing is to keep it fun and enjoy it. When you start to become too technical you miss the whole idea of why you do Triathlons.

    Good luck on your journey and thanks for the comment.

  9. I have to say, following folks like you really help me with training, motivation, and inspiration. I had no idea how helpful the blog world could be for my triathlon training! I don't have a coach, I have often wanted to get one, but then decide I don't have to spend the money, I can do this myself. But I know it would help me a ton.

  10. Caratunk Girl
    Agree the blog world helps a lot. yes I agree a coach certainly can help a lot especially if you have a specific target
    Thanks for the feedback

  11. This is a big can of worms to open up. Some athletes have been coached to huge success and others have coached themselves to huge success.

    I believe in coaching. Look at the renewed power of Conrad Stoltz this year, for example, after a change in coaching. A couple things to consider with coaching:

    1. Budget - do you want to spend R500, R1000, R2000 a month on coaching? That will largely determine what you get. HR analysis, Power analysis, personal time with your coach, etc.

    2. Personality - I have a friend who was a navy man most of his life. He can put together his program and not miss 1 session in 16 weeks. Others can get a program and miss all but 1 session in 16 weeks. The level of attention you require will be determined by your personality.

    3. Time - a smart coach can make more difference to a time pressured athlete than to someone who has all the time in the world to train.

    4. Motivation - some people just cannot get up in the morning unless their coach is going to moan at them. My housemate is the perfect example of this. Unless his personal trainer tells him what to do, he just won't do it. He has been going for 18 months and could probably not tell me what exercises he does there.

    Those are some things to consider with coaching.

    Me - personally - I have done some coaching practical courses, read all there is to read, trained with every gadget and still, I have 2 or 3 really smart guys who HELP me design my programs. In turn, I share this information by coaching a very limited amount of guys.

    It's not that difficult. Do the work. The talent excuse is a short term outlook. With the correct work every one of us can be pro level. Just read Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers if you dont believe me.

  12. Raoul
    Thanks for the comment, as always very valuable info from you. Thanks