What the age-grouper should know about coaching – by Tom Williams (TTT athlete)

There are many well known benefits of having a coach; individual assessment, a bespoke program, regular follow up to name but a few. All true, but there are other considerations that as an age-grouper may not have thought about.

As an age-grouper, you’re probably very busy balancing your time between your work, children and that list of jobs your partner gave you this morning. The last thing you then need is to be trying to plan your training, or worrying about whether you are doing the right thing in the limited time you have. A coach provides sessions with the variety, quality and structure you need. It takes the pressure off, leaving you to just enjoy it. If that’s the right word?

Coaches often use an electronic platform (e.g. Training peaks) to develop your program, with you uploading your data and feedback afterwards. Now, if you are anything like me, when someone is judging how well you do something, you are more likely to do it well. I can only assume this is the psychological result of an overly strict biology teacher. With so many gadgets capable of gathering your data from workouts there is nowhere to hide. At least not until I work out how to make my Garmin lie.

Another big advantage of coaching is training groups, which may well include the coaches themselves. By training or even racing alongside experienced coaches you gain a huge amount, particularly if you are racing at a new distance. This can include anything from technique to race tactics. Many groups will also utilise social media so you’ll have a few more friends on Facebook who understand what you mean when you post: ‘Just bonked massively during a hard ride.’ Non-tri friends don’t always think that’s an appropriate post apparently.

At this point I should say that I am coached by Chris Standidge, at Total Tri Training. At least I was until he reads this; there are disadvantages too. Firstly, there are times when it is going to hurt. Apparently what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! There has been the odd occasion when I have been wondering whether Chris is actually trying to kill me. Rather than using the lead piping in the library, he seems to be trying to achieve the same result with a combination of VO2 intervals and endurance runs.

An often-perceived disadvantage is that coaching is expensive. It’s all relative. Earlier this year I bought a shiny new pointy helmet. In reality it has probably saved me about 20 seconds over 40km (unless my wife is reading this, in which case it has saved at least ten minutes). For the same price as the helmet I could have paid for 4 months coaching. After exactly this period I did the same race, on the same course as last year. I went 12 minutes faster. Applying some tabloid-esque statistics, that makes the coaching 3600% better value for money.

So arguably coaching offers more advantages to the age-grouper than the pro. I’ve achieved far more this season than I thought possible. Give it a try, you may be surprised.

Massive thanks to Chris and the other coaches at Total Tri Training for not actually killing me but definitely making me faster!

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