Following my interview with Coach Mark, I wanted to share my own thoughts about working with a coach over the past year and a bit. If you want to know more about why I hired a coach in the first place, you can read my original post from 2013.
- Talk to potential coaches: People are different – and so are coaches. A coach that works for me or for your best friend might not be the best one for you. You can tell a lot from having a conversation with a coach or two…get their thoughts before you commit. Make sure they appreciate who you are and what your personal goals are. We all have different motivations. Make sure any coach you go with recognizes your motivations and will help you achieve what you want to achieve.
- Recognize that your coach can’t read your mind: If you don’t understand something, ask. If you want more information, ask. If you want to know why you are doing a particular session, ask. Basically: ask questions when you need to.
- Respect your coach’s time: This might just be me, but I know how annoying it is to get 50 emails on 50 different topics on the same day. Respect your coach has a life. When you can, group your questions together and ask them all at once. Save the urgent text messages for things that are time sensitive (i.e.: I can’t swim today – can I do tomorrow’s bike instead?). I personally tend to make suggestions when I can’t do something (see previous example)…which makes it easy for my coach to say “Sounds good”…unless it doesn’t, in which case, he’ll suggest something else.
- Take advantage of group training opportunities: If your coach offers free group training sessions (some do and some don’t), take advantage of them. They are a great way to meet other people and to get face-to-face time with your coach. I can’t make most of the LPC sessions, but the ones I have been to have been fantastic. Same goes for camps, etc. If you’re going to go to one, see if your coach offers one first. Chances are as a coached athlete, you’ll get some sort of discount – and you’ll have the benefit of working with a coach/coaches that know you.
- Trust your coach: This goes without saying. If you hire a coach, you really should trust him or her. Why spend the money otherwise? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask questions and that you always need to agree with what they recommend (although most of the time you probably should) – just that you need to trust they know what they’re doing and that they’re plan will help you be successful.
- Be honest: When it comes to your training, be honest with your coach. I can’t imagine any coach expects you to nail every single workout. If you do, your plan might not be hard enough. But don’t be afraid to say you can’t do a workout, or to say you skipped one. Make sure your coach knows if you’re stressed from work or feel exhausted. These things can all factor into how well you do a workout and might mean your coach suggests you do something else. Sometimes rest really is the right answer. Think of your coach as a co-conspirator…they want to help you succeed. But they can’t plan if they don’t know all the facts.
Happy to answer any questions you might have about working with a coach. Just post them in the comments!