When looking for a coach for your next endurance event, there are many options that you may find.  These options can range from a free training plan found on google all the way up to a coach with his/her PhD in exercise physiology or a similar field. So what is the difference? Is a personalized coach worth it? That will depend on the readers goals.  I hope this blog serves as a strong starting point in helping you choose the best plan for you. 

Disclaimer
    I used generalized costs and ideas for each coaching platform. In my experience as a coach and by keeping a close eye on the market, I find that these prices and ideas are generally close, but that they may differ from coaching company to coaching company.  The best thing you can do as a reader is research any coaching companies that you are interested in and find what their plans offer and what the cost is.  I speak for no other coach than myself. This blog is designed simply to give a birds-eye view of what coaching plans may offer… not what they absolutely will offer. 

Generalized Training Plan (Free)
    For the sake of this blog, this will be the entry level.  You can self-coach yourself, but I will start the levels with the general training plan as it was designed by someone else. This plan will have some sort of progressive structure to it and will on a general level build the athletes time training.  While it provides a calendar view and an easy schedule to follow, it will lack in any specific programming for each individual athlete. While better than nothing, it leaves plenty to be desired in terms of personal performance. 

Pro’s:

  • Calendar type view that is easy to follow
  • Progressive training
  • Free


Con’s:

  • Isn’t specific to each individual
  • Will not maximize performance
  • No communication between coach and athlete
  • No race details accounted for
  • No data analysis
  • Is fixed, not flexible. 

Generalized Training Plan for Purchase
    This is similar to the plan above, but it should have something more to it.  Whether it is training stress that is progressing, or a plan specifically built for a specific race, this plan should be a little bit more in depth than the free training plans you can find.  Many races will have plans for purchase that are specifically designed for their course. Another option is asking a coach to build you a generalized plan for a specific race.  These are all options and this step is another step up in the training plan hierarchy. 

Pro’s:

  • Calendar type view that is easy to follow
  • Should be based on some sort of performance tracking (power, heart rate, stress, etc)
  • Can be designed for a specific race


Con’s:

  • Is fixed, doesn’t allow for changes as needed for performance or life situations
  • No communication between coach and athlete
  • No race details based off training performance
  • No data analysis
  • Will not maximize performance for most individuals


Coaching at an Entry Level for Individuals ($50-$150/month)
    This option should be better than a generalized plan for each athlete.  At this level, the coach either has experience in the sport or has an entry level certification. While each coach will differ, many will use an email system for prescribing training or a coaching software (i.e Trainingpeaks). This type of coaching may have hands on interaction depending on where the coach and athlete are located. Some coaches may use data analysis at this level, others may not.  This should help performance a touch more than a general plan

Pro’s:

  • Begin to have communication with a coach
  • Should be individualized (up to each coach)
  • Should have an interactive calendar (up to each coach)
  • Should have race day planning


Con’s:

  • At this level, some coaches may be certified while others may not
  • At this level, some plans aren’t as flexible
  • Data analysis won’t be as robust compared to the higher levels
  • Communication may be limited compared to higher levels


Coaching at a Moderate Level for Individuals ($200-$400/month)
    This is where I feel coaching really starts to pay off for most individuals. While this is simply my opinion, I view this level as the real starting point for individuals focused on getting better and dedicating some time to the sport. At this level your coach should have some experience and be seeking continued education.  Data analysis and customization should be taking place at this point.  There are tools that begin to be integrated on a basic level to help maximize each individual. 

Pro’s:

  • This plan should be customized based on athlete physiology
  • This plan will take into account athlete life and program workouts accordingly
  • Communication should be multiple times a month or weekly
  • Data analysis should be done on a broad scale but can get specific at times 
  • Race planning and specific discussions utilizing different tools


Con’s: 

  • Cost can begin to become a factor 
  • Is specific, but lacks on higher level coaching
  • Coaches at this level may still be lacking in certifications
  • Workouts may be fixed and only changed at multiple times a month
  • Coach may not be full-time


Coaching at a High Level for Individuals ($400-$800/month)
    By this level, you should be working with someone that is a full-time coach. Simply by making this their career, they are more available for communication, have more time for data analysis, can spend certain periods of each day specifically on each individual, and leave no stone un-turned. While this level of coaching carries a higher price-tag, the level of attention to each athlete should be high and 100% customized. 

Pro’s:

  • Coach should be utilizing many different tools to ensure progress and performance
  • Coach should be well experienced with formalized education or high level certification
  • Communication should be available as needed
  • Data analysis is a premium
  • Race planning and execution is discussed and customized
  • Nutrition discussions are taking place
  • Equipment discussions are taking place
  • Coaches are attending athlete races or having training sessions
  • If the coach doesn’t have an answer, they are seeking out individuals that can help 

    • Sports Psych, Dietician, Bike companies, etc

Con’s: 

  • Cost is high
  • Coach may not be local as the athlete may be in an area without an expert coach. 

Coaching at a World Class Level for Individuals ($1000+/month)
    Basically everything you’d expect.  At this level it is the coaches career and they are driven to produce results. The experience and education of the coach is high and they have resources as partners that can help the athlete achieve their max potential.  No stone is left unturned at this level as every detail of performance is tracked and accounted for. 

Pro’s: 

  • Everything listed in the High Level
  • Should be with athlete for multiple training sessions
  • May provide training camps for athlete at the race location or area that will help performance
  • Customizing charts and expressions to analyze athlete data at extremely detailed level
  • Communication is open as needed


Con’s: 

  • Cost
  • Coach may not be local to the athlete


Conclusion
    There is no right or wrong coaching package for everyone. Each individual is different and therefore they should be seeking out the plan that will work for them. Whether you are a first time couch to 5k athlete or someone looking to win a world championship, coaches can help you along the way.  There is a need for beginner level coaches just as there is a need for experts.  Everyone serves a purpose in this industry and helps it grow in the right direction.  By understanding what your needs are as an athlete, I hope you make the right decision in your coaching and truly enjoy the experience of getting better in a manner that suits your lifestyle!

Enjoy and Happy Training!



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