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Tips on Finding a Tri Coach

There are a lot of Triathlon Coaches out there and the number just keeps growing.  From elite triathletes that have won championships to the personal trainer looking to offer one more service to their clientele, the variety is immense.  How do you weight factors such as athletic success versus communication skills?  And what about all of the other factors.  Here are some tips to consider before making your decision.
  1. Cost: Let's be realistic; we'd all love to be driving a Porche but most of us can't afford it.  Triathlon Coaching can cost anywhere from $20 for a basic program to $1000 a month for elite guidance.  Determine how much you can afford before even starting to look.  The average athlete will be paying in the area of $100 a month for a personalized program with some feedback.
  2. Qualifications: As we all know, a piece of paper is no guarantee of performance in any discipline.  That said, at least it's a starting point.  We're not going to ask to see a certificate from Dave Scott or Mark Allen, but what about the other triathlon coach that has a much lower profile?  Ask for their qualifications and then do a little research so you understand the source.  While Mark and Dave have proven themselves to be as skilled at coaching as competing, success in races is no guarantee that an individual will be a successful coach.  You must be confident that they also have the skills to listen to your needs and the ability to provide wide ranging training advice instead of only sharing the one approach that worked for them.
  3. The Right Experience: Some tri coaches are blessed with the ability to truly understand and guide all levels of triathletes, from those training 4 hours a week to lose some weight, to Kona qualifiers.  Ensure your coach has experience fulfilling goals similar to your own.
  4. Program Personalization: At a basic level you can buy a pre-set program that is not personalized to your circumstance.  Level two is a template selected based on a very basic profile.  From there the profiles or questionnaires get progressively more in depth, hopefully resulting in a program more carefully constructed around your own circumstances.  At the upper end, the process can also involve consultations in person or over the phone. 
  5. In Person or Virtual Guidance: If you want work on your technique, it is important to have a coach who can observe and correct your skills.  Some online coaches provide remote video correction, but nothing is as effective as in person.  If you are after programming then the virtual/online route is as effective as any, with exponentially greater options.
  6. Follow Up: One of the greatest contributions a coach can make to your season is their ability to change and adapt your program based on your progress and results.  What looked like a good plan in April might now be less than ideal due to anything from injury to accelerated progress.  You may also have questions or require clarification on the contents of your program.  Ensure that you have chosen a coaching option that allows you the appropriate level of access to your coach be it via email, phone or in person. 

    There is no right way to train and no one coach has all the answers.  There are many excellent coaches out there with diverse philosophies regarding training athletes and many of them will be able to get you where you want to go. 

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