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Getting the Most Out of Your Coaching Experience in 2024

cyclist getting the most of triathlon coaching

This article was contributed by coach Jeff Lukich of Drive Multisport, LLC.

2022 is wrapping up, and your first race will be here before you know it. You have signed up for that big event and hired a coach to help you meet your training and race goals. Now what? 

Triathlon and run coaching are an investment and might even be considered a luxury for some. If you’re putting your hard-earned cash down for a coach, how do you ensure you get the very best from your coaching experience? 

First things first – communication is key!  

Communicating with your coach. It sounds easy, right? But the truth is lack of communication between the athlete and coach is likely the number one reason that athletes don’t fully benefit from the coaching experience.

Before coaching begins, there will likely be an initial meeting or phone call with your new coach. This contact is the first and best opportunity to set some expectations around what you will need as an athlete. 

As a coach, I ask this question at every first contact: “What would a successful coaching experience look like for you?”  Be prepared to communicate the answer to this question, even if not asked.  The first contact is also an opportunity to share your expectations around coaching, your race goals, and any limitations to your training, such as family, job, injuries, etc.  

Online or “virtual coaching” has become the new norm, so location doesn’t have to be a limitation in having a quality coaching experience.  Most coach-athlete interaction will occur through e-mail, telephone/ video calls, text messaging, and the online training software itself. 

Be clear with your coach regarding what you prefer in communication frequency and method.  Otherwise, they may assume everything is going fine, and you have no questions.  Just make sure you let your coach know what you need and make use of all available technology, such as Zoom, MS Teams, or Skype.  

Follow your coach’s plan

Following (and trusting) the plan is critical.  As life sometimes gets in the way, we all have to miss or cut a workout short from time to time – even your coach! But do your very best to put in the work and follow the training plan set by your coach.

This includes duration, distance, and intensity.  Your coach should customize your workouts specific to you and your races.  So it is important to do the workouts as prescribed – especially the key workouts. 

But if you can’t get in that workout, or have to cut it short, don’t sweat it!  Let your coach know, and they should be able to guide you on what to do next.  Often the best thing to do is just move forward with your schedule as planned.  

Upload your workouts

We all want to get credit for our hard work, right?  Most coaches are using available online coaching software such as Training Peaks.  It cannot be over-emphasized how important it is to upload and log in your workouts regularly and to leave your coach “post-workout” comments. This lets your coach know what you are doing, how your body is responding to the training load, and how you are progressing with your program. 

I happen to coach with Training Peaks, and when one of my athletes completes and uploads a workout, it generates an e-mail to me.  This allows me to review the workout file and give feedback.  

Share your successes with your coach!  

Include your coach when you’ve had a great training session or race. Your coach wants to hear from you! On the training side, send your coach a note (or make a post-workout comment in Training Peaks) to let them know how the session went and why you felt it was a success. 

This will also give your coach clues on how to set you up for great sessions in the future.  If your coach cannot make it to your races, let them know immediately how you felt the race went.  And it is also helpful to schedule a phone call in the weeks following the event to debrief. 

Lastly, I recommend athletes write a race report for their most important events.  While these do take some time, I find that it is an excellent way for the athlete to reflect on the race, and if you post these online, it can help other athletes who might be preparing for that same event in the future.  

What equipment do I need to begin coaching?

For triathlon coaching, your coach will assume you already have all of the basics, like a bike, as well as swim, bike, and run gear.  Athletes also need access to a swimming pool and a safe place to ride and run.  And while not necessary, you may want to consider a good GPS device for your sport, and many coaches these days might even require a heart rate monitor and power meter.   

Outside of that, here are a few other items that may improve your training and coaching experience:

Dollar for dollar, hiring a coach can be one of the best things you can do to progress in your sport – more than any piece of equipment or electronic gadget. But here’s the deal – you pay a coach for guidance, support, and accountability.  The accountability is shared. We all have a part to play in making it work.  

Best of luck in 2024! This post was contributed by Jeff Luckich, a triathlon coach based in Georgia

Jeff Lukich Triathlon Endurance Coach
Jeff Lukich
Endurance Coach at Drive Multisport | Website

Jeff Lukich is the owner and head coach of Drive Multisport and leads Better Triathlete's coach match program. He is a USA Triathlon (USAT) Level 1, USA Cycling (USAC) Level 2, and USA Track & Field (USATF) certified coach. A 10x Ironman finisher and Boston Marathon Qualifier, Jeff specializes in coaching long-course triathletes, ultra-runners, marathoners, cyclists, and athletes with unique events, such as double Ironman, staged races, and SwimRun events. Learn more about Jeff.