why Get a coach?
When we set out to improve our performance, whether that be in racing or training, it is common for us to continue as self-coached athletes. The advantages seem clear - we are our own boss, prescribe our own workouts, take days off when we want to, eat what we want to, neglect strength work if we want to, race when we want to, save money to race even more if we want to. All which seem to be valid reasons.
With a fairly disciplined approach to self-coaching, it is very likely that the majority of athletes will improve they're performance considerably for a good few years. However, more often than not, the self-coached athlete will soon reach an apparent ceiling in their potential - racing and training performances will plateau - before beginning an inevitable decline. Whilst the self-coached route can deliver positive results, it is not conducive to achieving your very best.
Ask yourself this, how many elite athletes are self coached? Why are there so few?
Even the most knowledgeable and dedicated of self-coached athletes will unlikely reach their absolute peak in physical potential, without the assistance, perspective and expertise of a committed coach or coaching team.
True, you would no longer be your own boss, but you would now be answerable to a considerate coach that has your best interests at heart. Not only from a athletic performance perspective, but also from a mental health and well-being perspective. A good coach will always treat you as a person first - athlete second. A stable lifestyle that allows for consistency in training is imperative if you want to reach your peak. If a coach isn't sympathetic to exterior stresses - they are doing you a gross injustice.
Your new coach would of course also be responsible for prescribing your workouts and recoveries with a carefully constructed and adaptable training plan. This training plan will prevent you from performing your favourite sessions over and over again. It will force you to perform those difficult sessions that you have previously dreaded or felt incapable of doing. It will perhaps deliver new sessions that you have never envisaged. It will prevent you from performing your hard sessions at a comfortable intensity, it will force you to show restraint when you feel capable of so much more. It will recommend the most suitable fuelling strategy pre, during and post workouts. It will prescribe a bespoke strength and conditioning programme most appropriate to your ambitions, instabilities, age and injury history. Perhaps most critically, a good adaptable training plan will ensure you recover when you need to, even if you are desperate to train. All of these are features of a schedule conducive to success and continuous improvement.
The best coaches will have your short and long term ambitions at the very forefront of their minds when designing and prescribing a training plan. Everything should begin at the end goal. Every aspect of what it will take to achieve the end goal should be assessed and analysed to the finest of details. Every possible outcome should be foreseen and mitigated for, every possible road to the finale should be considered and critiqued. The route to success should be based upon scientific research and not a brand new experiment of N=1. It should be achievable due to its methodical nature, not highly unlikely due to its random approach. Every training block, session and interval should have a clear purpose that furthers an athletes progression towards their absolute potential.
If you are able to view your training objectively, completely free from subjective bias...
if you can dedicate yourself not only to the workload and recovery, but also to the research and planning required to prescribe an optimal training plan...
if you can consistently adapt appropriately in response to training stress and positive adaptation...
then by all means continue to coach yourself.
However, if you wish to become the very best athlete you can be and achieve performances that you never dreamt capable of...
making a small investment in professional coaching...
could well be the best money - you have ever spent.