Kaizen – Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the best,” refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement. Setting goals, creating the plan to get there, following the plan and putting it all together on race day-This is how to reach your goals in triathlon- continuous, steady improvement! You weren’t born swimming, biking and running, it takes time to master the skills of each sport.
Triathlon was only just invented in the 80’s! It takes a few years of consistent training in all 3 sports to be able to put it all together well. I am not saying you have to wait a few years to get better because every individual is different and will excel at different rates. However, I have seen it time and time again when there is consistency in training and recovery, great things happen.
Of course, having a coach will greatly increase the learning curve. I speak to many athletes each week who have big triathlon dreams but tell me they want to wait until they are more in shape to hire a coach. Training with a coach from the beginning will help you avoid making simple mistakes that me or my athletes or all the triathletes who came before have already made over the last 30 years. You get the benefit of jumping to the front of the line in terms of experience, technology and innovation.
From the beginner to the most experienced triathlete, I truly believe that everyone can benefit greatly from having a coach. I always use a coach for myself as well. Having someone besides yourself and your ego to consult with is essential. A coach can guide you on every detail of triathlon training and racing. There are so many details within each discipline; swim, bike and run along with strength (injury prevention), nutrition and of course, putting it all together. It can be a big commitment or a simple one. Just need to find the coach that works for you.
There are many things to consider when looking for a coach, but they need to be able to meet you where ever you are with respect to ability and skill level, time commitment, and expectations. Personalities need to mesh too, every coach won’t work for every athlete. I personally like to work with athletes on a closer higher level so I can help them achieve the results they are seeking. However this year I am offering a group program, reach out to me for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org. See below on tips to consider when looking for a coach and a coaching program.
TIPS: Some things to consider when looking for a coach or training program.
Budget- You get what you pay for! Are you looking for a social club? Other athletes to train with? A more laid back approach where there is no commitment from you in the way of feedback and logging training? If you answered yes to any of these then a group training plan is the best choice. Please consider however if you do not receive the results you were hoping for it is not the plan or the coach’s fault, a generic plan will not specifically help you as an individual to improve your limiters. If you are looking for more contact from your coach and you have some specific time goals then you may be ready for a more one on one approach to coaching. This type of coaching can get you where you want to go in a shorter period of time. Also, using technology like a garmin can help the communication and measurement of improvement. This however will require more od a financial commitment and deeper relationship with your coach that should improve over time. Weekly feedback is a must and having the coach be able to see you whether in person or with video is always a bonus. It all depends on what your goals are, what you want to achieve and how fast you want to get there.
Time- Knowing how much time you have to train on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis is another important factor to consider if you want to hire a coach. There are plenty of FREE training plans online that you can download and fit into your schedule. However, if you have these triathlon goals and you have no clue how to fit them all in hiring a coach is the way to go. Many coaches will change your training schedule according to your work, family and other life commitments and still allow the training you need to reach your next PR (Personal Record). Also the longer you work with a coach who you gel with the better the results tend to get over time. That is a win, win!
Experience- Your coach’s credentials are not always the whole story. It is a great idea to consult with your perspective coach and ask about their education and experience in coaching, training and racing. A good coach should have a little bit of everything and maybe specialize in one area. Another good thing a coach should have is the ability to have a whole team to support the coaching practice. One coach can’t be all things to every athlete. It is an added bonus if your coach has a massage therapist, bike mechanic, physical therapist, strength trainer, sport psychologist or any other specialist or strategic partner to refer athletes to that support the same vision for their athletes. Please don’t be fooled by the coach who may be an excellent athlete but have difficulty transferring that knowledge to others they are coaching. Every athlete is different and requires different stimulus, recovery, and strategy. Finding a coach that understands this and allows for KAIZEN is the right choice, not necessarily the one that can beat you at the race!
Do your research, ask the questions, try a few classes and find the coach that inspires and motivates you to achieve your triathlon dreams!