One, do I deserve a coach? Two, will being coached take away from the fun and enjoyment of riding?
The first question is easy. Yes. The second question is absolutely not.
Everyone, regardless of goals and ability, deserves and can benefit from professional coaching and there are a variety of reasons.
VeloJawn Coaching has been on-boarding a number of new coaching clients recently.
The critical part of this process is to carefully listen to each athlete's goals, training history and constraints(time to train, work, family). No plan will be successful if it does not fit well with what an athlete wants to do and is balanced with what they are capable of doing. During that process, one of my new clients, Alex, asked me two pressing questions.
The biggest reason is that coaching can help you achieve your goals. This can be as simple as being healthier and safer on the bike. From a coaching perspective, we have a lot of success and get a lot of satisfaction helping people live happier and healthier lives which can include losing some weight, enjoying their bike and improving their general health.
On the other end of the spectrum, coaching elite racers is a different ball game. Many of these athletes have been training at a high level for many years and are very well conditioned. Some may feel stuck at a certain level or are knocking on the door of key goals such as being on the podium in target races.
With this level athlete, it is almost always about making some minor changes in their training patterns and in what we call “racecraft”. It is more than just hard work. They may not be working efficiently, which is usually a combination of not resting enough to fully recover and not going hard enough on the hard days. Many times the best conditioned athlete does not win. Winning or getting a high place requires awareness of how a race is developing and how to put their bike in a position for success, which is where the "racecraft" part of coaching comes in.
Next, the question about enjoyment and fun on the bike. That one is trickier. It depends on your definition of “fun”. In the case of our client, Alex, we showed him that he was already training very hard. More than enough to be highly successful for his events. However, he was doing a lot of “medium hard, medium long” group rides which meant he was never really resting. He was always moderately or severely fatigued. Often riders do not recognize this as they adapt and think that this is normal.
As it turns out, Alex has a lot more talent than he thought that he had. As we tweaked his calendar to allow for proper rest and recovery, he was able to work a lot harder. Working harder does not mean crushing every workout. It does mean specific targeted work on the bike. There is no shortcut to getting faster. To be completely honest, I can’t say that a hard workout is “fun". However, it will give athletes a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Depending on the level of the athlete, this does not need to be grueling. The exemption is for racers that want success at elite events.
They will need to do workouts that are extremely difficult. For me, and I think for Alex, not achieving potential and getting dropped from a group ride or race is decidedly not fun. As such, I am willing to do a certain amount of work in my training to achieve my goals. I have a lot of fun riding to my potential. Being on podiums is exciting and also difficult. That is an outcome of a sound process and not a goal in and of itself.
You do not have to be a Tour De France pro to deserve and benefit from a coach.
I believe that our client Alex is having fun on the bike, understands he absolutely deserves to be coached, and has improved greatly in only a few weeks of structured, balanced training.