"Are there any triathletes out there not trying to be a coach?"

That's an interesting question, one that I saw posted on Twitter yesterday.  I could answer a question with a question by asking:  "What is a coach?"


When I was a kid, I wrestled and our wrestling team had two coaches.  Each day after school, our coaches would command us to the wrestling room where we would spend hours practicing.

Upon entry into the wrestling room, we would start with some basic exercises which included a lot of stretching and core work and after completing our warm up routine, we would commence with the wrestling.

While we were practicing, the coaches would walk the room, give us advice and perhaps even give us a demonstration on how to perform some maneuver.

Fast forward to the present.

We have the Internet and although we've managed to bridge the divide between us electronically, how exactly do you accomplish the above?

You could provide video or even live video but the above cannot be accomplished in the same manner.

In its truest form, I believe the above is coaching.

Let me complicate the problem further though.  With the invention of the canned training plan, one does not even need to understand the concepts in order to coach.

The latter doesn't bother me as much as maybe it should because I think those people do a good job of weeding themselves out.

The former presents a problem for me though because I work with remote athletes and I want to do my best to bridge that gap.  Truth be told -- if I was local and I spent my afternoons with you, I would be charging you more than I do.  So there's a financial benefit to be considered when we're talking about Internet coaching.

But this brings me back to the original question... what is a coach?

A coach is someone who fills in the gaps in between what you know and what you don't know.  A coach is someone who provides another set of eyes and ears.  A coach is someone who provides objectivity.  And a coach is someone who takes some of the work off of your plate.

That's my modern day view.

There was a time when I didn't understand how to plot my training and I worked with a coach who fed me a canned plan.  I don’t know that I'd call that coaching now but at the time, it filled in those gaps.  Back then, that was coaching to me.

Not long after that, I understood how to plot the training but I didn't understand the numbers and I definitely didn't understand what it meant to be a competitor.  But someone I called a coach, a different person with more experience, filled in those gaps.

That was the last time I had a coach but it doesn't mean I couldn't benefit from one now.  I just choose to go about it alone because I think there are some good lessons to be learned from being self coached.  It's not for everyone though.  You need to be objective and you need to be willing to accept the consequences.

If you're unable to remain objective, unable to accept the consequences or both, we are living in a time where there is an endless supply of coaches.  If you can afford to hire a coach, why wouldn't you?

At the end of the day, there will be people who know more than other people.  If person A. knows more than person B. and A. charges B. a nominal fee to provide some insight, who am I to judge?

The key there is insight -- that's part of what I consider coaching.  There are varying degrees but the same can be said for athletes.

I'm ok with someone who is interested in coaching taking on a new athlete and providing some guidance based on what they've learned.

In a traditional sport, the opportunity to learn from another coach is readily available.  With triathlon, that is not the case for most of us here in the U.S. and it presents a problem.

If the only voice you hear is your own, how much are you learning?  Obviously you can buy books but a book can't argue back.  Your opinions need to be challenged.

Some of you know that I run forum and its members consist of athletes I coach, athletes who are coached by others and it also includes other coaches.  The forum is private and I choose who can join our group.  I think it's understood that poaching would be frowned upon but if an athlete wants to leave me, they are going to leave me regardless of whether or not there's another coach in my forum.

I guess that could be considered a downside but the upside to this diversity is getting more than one voice, having access to different approaches and having someone challenge your views.

That's my .02 on the subject.

Happy coaching!