The foundations for successful riding
For people who are coaches or have/are being coached, what are the advantages they have found over self-coaching?
I understand that coaching and training plans/training are related, but I imagine the plan is the output of an aspect of the coaching. I was more focussing on the coaching itself rather than simply the provision of a plan.
By Coaching I am referring to coaching cyclists for racing (crit, road, track.)
For a start, if the coach is at your race meets, then he/she can see what you are doing wrong or right and observe your oppositions continuous tactics, weaknesses and strengths.
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
I will chime in on this even though the info may be a little old; I utilized the coaching services of LW Coaching several years ago for endurance mountain bike racing - at the time there was very limited options in Australia unless you were one of the lucky ones to be picked up by AIS (now is different). Linda's service was fantastic even though she was based overseas data was analysed though the training peaks software, and email correspondence would go back forward a few times a week, a phone call usually occurred once or twice a month.
The bonus of being coached vs using a pre-built training plan is the coaching could be tailored to your specific goals where as plans would usually be hit and miss in terms of A and B peak, timing and the like - in addition a pre-built plan can't tell you if you are slacking off, pushing too hard or plateauing (I've used both LW's pre-built plans and coaching services).
The outcome, well both options have their merits! I was only marginally quicker being coached rather then being self coached or using a plan, but I also found I was less inclined to feel over trained at various points in the season. I never made it to the top level as I stopped racing but I did make it to the podium a few times in some pretty good company (open).
Im not an accredited coach but I do a lot of coaching and training for road and track racing. The "coaching" and I use the word loosely, varies from person to person and event.
For a start, in cycling, experience is god, there is no substitute for it and no short cuts. An experienced rider will win over everyone else every time, no matter what the power differential. So coaching in my opinion is utilising an experienced person to assist you in various ways, like those Foo mentioned.
To me, coaching is mentoring, its personal, its a relationship of trust.
Here are some examples of what I do:
I don't write training plans, it is up to the rider to make sure they are in peak shape. A good rider knows their body and what works by way of training.
For road races, I generally just discuss tactics and possible scenarios, and what to do / not do.
For crits, the rule is ride the front, no coaching required, just encouragement to give the person confidence to be aggressive and ride good position.
For teams races / tours I set a race plan the night before with rider input and discuss how I think the race stage will unfold, and which opposition riders to watch. Before and after the stage I pump their tyres, get them whatever food or drinks they want, boost their confidence and generally act like their mother ... I take care of all small details so they can just do their job which is to ride their bike fast.
For track it depends on the event. A good example is where a couple of years ago I took a MTB rider who has never ridden track, showed him the technicalities of Track pursuit racing, researched times for his age group, drew up a lap schedule, told him what gear to use, what cadence to spin, what his lap times had to be, organised 3 training sessions at Dunc Gray, flew with him to the Australian championships where he was fastest qualifier. He just got his pacing a bit wrong in the final (inexperience) but was happy with a silver medal. I told him when to warm up, when to eat, I pumped his tyres, kept him calm and free of stress. Before the points race I analysed the main danger riders, discussed who to watch, how and when to go for a lap (he cant sprint), stood on the track infield and used hand signals and a lot of yelling, I held up a board with the race numbers of the guys he had to watch during the race ... he lapped the field twice and won Gold and the Australian title.
I get my jollies by seeing people achieve goals. I don't accept money off anyone. When someone wins a race, or a Title, and I know I helped a little bit, or contributed, well that's a great feeling.
After bumbling around for a few years, I found where I wanted to focus my energies in cycling and so I engaged a coach this year. Proir to that, I did a lot of scouring the net finding little snippets of info here and there and pieced it all together under the guise of a training plan. When I engaged my coach, I showed him what I was doing, and he was really impressed with what I had put together myself. It really just needed some tweaking for me to head forward.
After a few years on the track and road, I found I really liked track cycling and especially the shorter sprint stuff. There's not a whole lot of info around that is focussed on that area, but I happened upon a guy via forums that was a few years ahead of where I was, so he was really an invaluable source of info. I'll keep him on board for as long as I can, because I know what he's doing is working. He did the same by self coaching himself over many years and engaged a coach last year. At the masters worlds, he managed a 4th place in the TT in his age division. Not too bad given he doesn't have a track near where he lives!
Mate when I take a team to a tour, I book the flights, book the hotels, drive the team van, carry the boys bags, cook their dinners, wash down their bikes after each stage, load their crap onto the buses, have a Coke in their hand within 2 minutes of finishing the stage, I go to the supermarket for them while they have a sleep in the afternoons, clean up their vomit .... at one tour a few years ago I had 5 of my 8 riders in hospital with a gastro bug, I was getting a taxi back from the hospital at 1am and getting up at 4am every day. As well as that there is attending daily stage briefings and relaying the info to the riders, reminding them of rules and protocols, making sure they sign on at the right time and wear the correct clothing on the podium, collect money off them for the race organisers, keep a team kitty, keep a tally of results, chair the nightly team meeting where we debrief the days stage and preview the next day, and discuss our plan. I tell them what time to turn lights off and tuck them all in and kiss them goodnight lol.
Its not about giving orders, its about supporting your riders. Its about being an extra pair of hands, and an extra person who can have an unbiased perspective on the race. I only get to play DS a couple of times a year, its not quite like the blokes you see sitting in a car with a radio in the TDF but I like doing it.
Coaching has many meanings to different people, and is not well defined. Some of what's spoken about here might be better called mentoring, and some of it might be better called management, and some is coaching.
For me it's about working on key elements to improve the performance of a client, be that physiological, physical, psychological, motivational, technical, nutritional, experiential, strategic and/or tactical, all which lead to the achievement of their cycling/racing goals (and sometimes it's about sorting out what the goals are/should be). The priorities for any individual are going to be different, and they will change as they grow and develop as a cyclist.
DD is right in that experience is crucial and takes time to gain (obviously) but there are ways to short cut the learning curve to some extent, and not all experience is good experience, so you do need to sort out what's what.
Good riders may be good physioloigcally and know their bodies, but they are often good despite their training, and often there is more performance to unlock if they are preapred to learn and do the work. We have seen this many times with elite riders. Amateur/club riders often train poorly and do need plenty of help in that respect.
Unlike DD, I do this for a living full time and it's what pays for the roof over my head and the food on my plate. As such, it's also a professional service and run as a business (with my business partner and other coaches). People who know me via forums are probably familiar with the analytical side of what I do, but many would not see the practical elements nor the personal interactions, which are naturally in-confidence. And being a profession I also spend a lot of time keeping up to date with many elements of performance improvement, latest developments, as well as interact wit hmy colleagues and specialists around the world.
I also do quite a bit of pro-bono work as well, especially for my club, and I contribute to the sport in other ways, such as commissaire duties, or for example working in a volunteer capacity at NRS stage races and via the masters commission where I've helped plan events and introduce better rules/tech regulations to encourage more and better competition. And of course I publish a lot of open source material about performance and have also published many analysis tools that have been taken up around the world.
Some coaches are employees of sports bodies, and they have different roles and relationships with their assigned athletes, as well as access to different support network.
Every coach (using the very broad definition) or coaching outfit has their own style and strengths and weaknesses and not every coach-athlete combination will work, so if you are considering it, then take some time to interact with any prospective coach to assess that.
People like DD are rare diamonds, and so if you are fortunate to have one in your local area, treat them well, talk less and listen more.
As Alex says at the end of his post Derny Driver is a rare gem. I contacted him via these forums to ask about a climb near his area to use for training for a particular event. He not only offered a insight and advice to the climb but also a suitable training route, he also offered me more than anyone could expect from contact via a forum. If the world had more people like Derny Driver & Alex Simmons we would all be much better for it. These two guys are just a insight into what makes this sport great, wonderful generous people who keep the sport on the right track. Disclaimer: Alex is a great coach as I have been with him & RST Sport for a while now and for a middle age man & fairly new to cycling in terms of years he has me me going pretty good. If only I had some more smarts between the ears I could probably go a bit better .
Thanks for the kind words everyone, but Im only rare in the sense that Im not married any more, dont ride a bike any more, still love cycling and have plenty of free time. When I was racing I would have killed to have a person I could just ring up and organise a private motorpacing session, or ask to accompany me as handler to a race somewhere. I know theres not many people like that, and i know that the guys I help really appreciate it.
You know, the cycling community nationally and internationally is amazing. I have never met a person who isnt incredibly generous. One example - a complete stranger in Belgium took 3 days off work and went to the national Library in Brussells to reseach some archived newspaper reports for me (Im writing a book). He photocopied the stuff, about 80 euros worth and then posted it to me (another 10 euros) and wouldnt accept a cent as payment. Ive got dozens of examples of things like this. The Maillot Jaune Club in Melbourne is full of such people. No way am I different to anyone else in the cycling community.
I have been lucky to hang around some elite and well credentialled cyclists, starting with my dad. What I know, I have learnt from talking to and watching brilliant bike riders. As I said, I am NOT a coach, I dont call myself a coach, what I do is usually just helping. Sometimes it is mentoring. Funny thing with my son, he doesnt really listen to me that much but takes advice from my friends. Thats normal I guess.
Alex's post has heaps of pearls in it. I can't hold a candle to what Alex knows. Serious racers with ambitions would do well to utilise his knowlege and experience. Alex is in the industry and therefore has access to all sorts of information which I dont. He also has a scientific bent which I dont.
But back to the OP's question, any coaching you can get will be of benefit, if informal mentoring is all you have time for, then it can help, if you can find it. If you can access a bloke like Alex in Sydney, or Fluro in Brisbane, then you can access the analytical training feedback as well as the other things I have mentioned, which would be perfect.
DD is spot on. Coaching is about so much more than a program, I have only helped 2 people, one a young u/17 that needed to learn cycling and have someone believe in him. He went from getting dropped in every race to 2nd behind Caleb Ewan in the state titles. The other a lady that has just signed a pro contract after spending tears on the fringe.
It is not about anything more than explaining the finer points of cycling and them have someone believe in them. Some of us like DD have been around this sport for many years. I believe I can improve anyone's cycling if they will listen but instead no one will they are interested in their fancy wheels and power meter results and d fatties like me beat them every week.
Everyone today thinks they know everything cause they red it on the net.
The best thing my coach does is make me stop riding. I fit in my training around family and a pretty 'busy' job. My coach will give me 3-5 day lay offs mid season when he detects fatigue or stress in me. At first I would argue but it works an absolute treat. My coach has a lot of success with masters riders trying to 'fit it all in' (I am 40) and I reckon these mini-breaks is one of the main reasons for that.
Giant Trinity Composite 1
One thing a lot of people forget also is, a training programe has to be designed for each individual personally.
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I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
I've been coaching since 2004 and have had a consistent base of 10-20 athletes all year round. The advantage there, is that I have built up a huge database of training sessions, articles, plans, race specific event sessions, etc.. that have been tried and tested over the years by a full range of people. So the people that sign up with me have access that sort of resource, it's invaluable, as I've basically been through, every obstacle, setback, high's and low's you can imagine. So any coach takes that knowledge and skills they have acquired over the years and pass it directly onto their athletes is gold. It takes a lot of guesswork out of training.
Every other day, I'm on the computer, looking at power files, HR files get my head around how an athlete ticks. Overtime you build a relationship, that allows an athlete to put trust in you and when they do, you can take them above and beyond there expectations, goal, etc....This is mental hurdle hard to overcome with self coached people.
This is just a snippet, a small piece of what I do.....I love doing it, I love unpacking a person, rebuilding their whole philosophy of what it takes to improve and do well, in relation to their goals, it's not a short term process and when people do sign up with me, I expect them to commit long term, as it takes time to improve, there are no quick fixes, those that stay, always achieve their dreams and I feel privileged to be part of that process.
Paul....aka fluro for DD
Coaching Athletes around the world
Exactly Mr Fluro . So self coached rider 'A' wants to do a track pursuit race. He asks other friends and competitors what gear to ride, has no idea if he can push it, or hold it for the required 12-16 laps, no idea how fast to start .... he goes on the internet and finds some random schedule calculator and tried to ride to that. He either starts too fast and dies in the last 3 laps, or too slow and never gets on top of the gear.
Rider B seeks out a 'coach' who has a database of real time schedules / lap times / cadences which he then tailors to the riders needs. And then they practice riding to the schedule, especially getting Lap 1 right. Ive never seen a self-coached cyclist at any track championships with a stopwatch taking down lap times of every competitor and counting their pedal strokes /cadence, and then going home and spending hours tailoring a schedule for themselves and then going and riding it in practice to see if it needs fine tuning. Aint nobody got time for that!
Before I started getting coached I had been riding only a couple of years with 1 year of racing under my belt. I was racing club C grade & whilst I was not getting dropped I was not getting many results. I have been coached by Alex Simmons for the a couple of years & have been in club A grade for the last 14 months, I am heading towards 50 yo & I am racing guys younger than my own kids a lot of the time . Results are hard to come by but I can hold my own without getting dropped, I need to be a bit smarter . The big difference for me between getting coached & not getting coached was that since starting with Alex I now train whereas before I just rode my bike.
This is probably going to sound counter intuitive.
I've worked out for me (and my mates) that its all about the miles. I don't get a heap of time to ride per week. Probably 8-10 hours.
Of that 1 is a commute, there are two weekend rides of 3-4 hours and now a crit once a week.
Just doing the longer rides at lower intensity on the weekends has helped me more than lots of smaller rides during the week. This is all based off power which I've been using for the last 3-4 years. I no longer do any intervals or 2 x 20s but ride. Sometimes slow or as the group dictates. One of those weekend rides probably has a good hard effort in it up a climb for 10-12 minutes or a TT interval on the flat but that's about it.
I find that the more miles I do just riding, even if its slow helps with the going fast bit when needed. Case in point, I hit my fastest ascent up Galston Gorge East by about 40 seconds about a month ago a few weeks before the Amy Gillet Gran Fondo. That transferred over to a good ride in the Gran Fondo (minute outside my PB from 2011), fastest ascent of the Skenes Creek climb by 2 mins and 10 minutes faster than last year. I've also held a my highest 5-10 minute power outputs over the last 8 weeks as well. Weird.
That said, I've had Alex provide me with a number of valuable coaching programs earlier on when I first started using power and was training for the etape which has helped a lot in terms of pacing and effort and knowing what I can and can't do. I know I'll never have a 280-300w FTP.
I'd be interested in the coaches thoughts on just doing the miles though if nothing else. Does volume beat intensity?
Coaching is tailored around what you are training for. Club racing for me is just a bit of fun a needle with the boys. Dont get me wrong I love racing with my mates but its not the main game. For me its a case of having some goals mapped out for the year at the start of the year, sitting down with the coach looking at the race calender & seeing what are the target events. Once those goals are locked in then the program can begin to be formed. Priority events etc need to be worked out so the training schedule can be mapped around those dates throughout the year, allowing fatigue etc to be monitored & also take into account factors like if its a stage race, or is it something like Grafton to Inverell. Lots of different factors & training methods for different events. After being with a coach for a while it also allows the amount of data collected to see what worked for a particular client that may not work for another, or whether a certain block of work got the gain that were sought or did the trainee not respond & a differing approach may see better gains. I think I read somewhere or Alex may have said it to me but there are many ways to skin the ftp cat. I am lucky to be in a position atm to be able to have a coach for my training, but at the end of the day if you love to ride a bike then that's what it is all about.
For me, I have tried self coaching in cycling but never really got the results I was after. Hired Pat Shaw and within 6 months had a state title to my name, and a few other placings. This year is much the same, two of my team mates are now coached by him whilst I coach two others. To me the difference between self coached and coached is black and white. But it is important to find the right coach for you, some peoples coaching may not suit "you".
Oh and DD is a legend
Either my fame has spread to the southernmost extremity of the country, or someone is having a laugh at my "legend' status. I might have to start my own thread soon
Would that be a TT State Title Phil?
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