by Brig Brandt, PCG Elite Coach
At Peaks Coaching Group we strive to provide the best possible coaching experience. And good coaching isn’t a top down relationship; good coaching is an interaction through which information and ideas are transferred between the coach and the athlete. Do you want the best coaching possible? If so, follow these ten simple tips.
1. Upload your files routinely. I download my athletes’ training files every day. This keeps me “in the loop” on how their training week is progressing and helps me tremendously when working on their next training block. If an athlete felt fatigued over the weekend or struggled to hit the numbers, I might postpone the first hard workout of the week. Also, the default download time in WKO is the last seven days; if you upload a workout more than a week old, it’s a good idea to let your coach know.
2. Make your scheduled meetings a priority. Each coaching level we offer includes a regular meeting with your coach (usually weekly, biweekly, or monthly depending on the level of coaching). These meetings are important and critical to your success. I meet regularly with my clients via Skype to review files, outline the upcoming week, and address any unique demands of the next event. Sometimes these meetings are sixty minutes long and packed with information, and other times they’re casual, fifteen-minute conversations. Either way, they provide an interactive platform to discuss training and offer a more in-depth coach/athlete interaction than email or phone.
3. Put notes into TrainingPeaks after your workouts. Entering notes into the post-activity comment box in TrainingPeaks is a simple and effective way to communicate with your coach. There’s no need to write a book; a simple sentence or two is fine (though of course feel free to write more if you want). Something as simple as “these intervals felt really easy” can be very helpful. Also, the TrainingPeaks search function searches the post-activity comment box. Want to see how many miles the National Championship race was last year? Type “national,” and TrainingPeaks takes you right to the file.
4. Tell us what motivates you. This is key! What motivates you? What do you enjoy about your sport? What’s your favorite workout? What’s your least favorite? The most effective training plan is not a physiology problem; it’s a blend of physiology and psychology. You’re not a robot. Tell your coach what you enjoy, and he’ll likely be able to incorporate that into your plan.
5. Be honest about your available training time. Your coach knows you’re busy, but he also wants to capitalize on your available training time (especially with time-constrained athletes). Don’t make your available training time a “best-case” scenario; make it a normal scenario. If an athlete tells me he can only train ninety minutes on Wednesday, 75% of the time there will be a ninety-minute ride planned on Wednesday. Also, coming up short on your training hours is not a rewarding experience for you; being realistic about your available time will make it easier to hit your weekly goals.
6. Tell us when you can do more. This is the flipside of tip five. Is your family going to the in-laws this weekend and you’re 100% free? Let us know. Does your schedule change weekly? Enter your available training hours into TrainingPeaks or email your coach. I’m a firm believer that you can do a lot on ten hours per week…but you can do more with twelve.
7. Provide us with a clear race calendar. As early in the coaching process as possible, provide your coach with a clear race calendar. Note the priority of each race and your approximate expected finish time of each race. Also provide dates of any planned trips where the bike will stay home (or trips where the bike will come along).
8. Have clear and simple goals. There are entire books written on why goals are important and how to construct them. I like to have my athletes make clear, time-sensitive, and objective goals. Once you’ve made them, don’t bury them in a folder; put them (or a symbol of them) somewhere visible in your everyday life.
9. Follow the plan. Some of my athletes follow every workout to the letter, which is something I don’t expect from everyone. But if you follow tips four and five, you should be able to follow the plan most of the time. Let us know if you can’t (and why) so that we can remedy the problem as soon as possible.
10. Something is better than nothing. Don’t bag a three-hour ride completely because you can only do ninety minutes. Remember, something is always better than nothing!
Brig is a USA Cycling Level 2 and power certified coach who recently earned the USA Cycling “with distinction” award for his ongoing commitment to continuing education. He has had the pleasure of coaching masters and professional athletes to multiple national championship podiums and believes that any athlete, even one with limited time, can see significant improvement with focused training.