Should I change my coach?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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by cro2

The question of changing my coach has been bugging me for a few weeks now, and I really hope that some of you might help me sort this out. To begin with, I have started a collaboration with a cycling coach a little over a year ago, as I was tired of getting dropped by stronger riders on group rides and during amateur and Masters races.
Prior to working with a coach I was preparing my training plans myself with the help of "The Cyclist Training Bible" book by Joe Friel and I was clocking about 3000 km a year, which was a lot less than 100h of riding time. I wasn't really committed to the training and often skipped sessions for various reasons. As you may anticipate my results were much below my expectations as I regularly finished races in the middle of the pack, not even getting close to the podium. The previous winter (2016/2017) I decided to finally stick to a solid training plan that I have prepared, with training periods and "A" class races carefully written in the calendar. As I was a complete novice when it comes to interval training, pacing and RPE scale, I think my progress was not as good as it could have been, but anyway I managed to get through the winter. Still I got kicked in the spring by stronger riders and decided to start working with a cycling coach. I hired one local guy, which is known for very good results in both cycling and triathlon on national Masters level.
I immediately started to work harder and longer than before - last year it was about 600 hours of training and over 15000 km on the bike. This is approximately 14-15 hours per week. The sessions consisted mainly of various flavors of intervals - from 15 seconds sprints to 15 minutes sub-FTP ones. My results improved greatly over the course of the year - from about 260W to 315W FTP in one year. I wonder, however, how much of this is due to the increased training volume and how much to the actual training plan. My doubts come from the fact that my training is pretty much the same for the whole year, with the same sessions every week. Second, this guy does not accept rest days - for the last years I have had at most 1 easier day per week, as the other days were filled with demanding sessions. For instance, a typical week starts with an 1.5h weight session on Monday, followed by sub-threshold intervals on Tuesday, then a super-threshold interval session on Wednesday, 5x8 minutes threshold ride on Thursday, recovery ride on Friday, local race on Saturday and a 4h session on Sunday. With so demanding training sessions, I really consider over-training an issue as I do not have the luxury to have a sports massage every day and 10-12 hours of sleep to get enough regeneration - my 9-to-5 job is a software dev position, which also can be quite stressful at times.
The next issue is his attitude towards trainees. Even though I pay this guy, I often have to ask for his services myself and pull his tongue. Moreover, he seems to change his mind about training quite often - for instance when I asked him about weight loss about half a year ago, he said that the best time to do so is after the season end. Then a few months later he said that the best time is the season start. He also doesn't seem to consider his trainees abilities and season goals, going for a generic training instead. When I tell him that I want to be more active in breakaways, he seems to ignore this entirely. Also when I ask him about what I did wrong during a race he seems to be very reluctant to answer, with vague comments about better riders in the race.
Any suggestions?

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by cdncyclist

From what you relate, I would agree that the most significant benefit has been consistent quality training. In my opinion, that is one of the valuable aspects of having a coach - setting out a plan and monitoring your performance, which in your case (and mine also) leads to consistency in training. Saying this, any coach wil fulfill this role (and if you are discplined enough, designing your own training plan or using one of the various off the shelf ones would fullfill this aspect).

I would agree that a coach should do more than this, and it sounds like you percieve you are not getting great value. It sounds like you have already made your decision. There are lots of coaches out there, but 'great' ones aren't easy to find (I define this by ones that can provide guidance on training, respond and adapt to the athelete, are proactive on making changes to improve performance or avoid overtraining, provide advice on nutrition and tactics, and deal with the psychological aspect of the athelete and the sport).

Also, it is a bit of a red flag that you have brought up the issue of lack of rest / overtraining and your coach has not addressed in any way.

by Weenie

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by AJS914

It definitely sounds like you could use a new coach. Having you do the same thing week in, week out sounds like he is using a cookie cutter formula. I'm surprised that he is not periodizing your training at all. Do you feel like you recover enough from your Monday-Thursday hard workouts to do your best on Saturday?

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by LouisN

Yu can have a famous coach with supposedly "best ever" plans, I doubt they will "fit" you or any given athlete just like that.
A key quality I look for in a coach is monitoring.

Louis :)

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by KWalker

Coaches that train pros are rarely good for normal athletes who cannot handle the training load and often have other life stresses.

When I coached cyclists I would say that 90% of people I ended up coaching came from coaches like that or one of the big name companies where the coach didn't do much more than login and write nice comments in Training Peaks.

It is not very hard to take someone and put a few watts on their FTP. What's hard is keeping that progression through a season, racing, illness, and the racer actually having the fitness when it counts.
Don't take me too seriously. The only person that doesn't hate Froome.
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by mattr

I'd say the majority of coaches drop into the same mold as the majority of bike fitters.
Either clueless, or well meaning and clueless.
Change your coach. As up there, sounds like cookie cutter training plans with little or no knowledge applied.

Hope it's not an expensive training plan.

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by simoncx

mattr wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:12 am
I'd say the majority of coaches drop into the same mold as the majority of bike fitters.
Either clueless, or well meaning and clueless.
Change your coach. As up there, sounds like cookie cutter training plans with little or no knowledge applied.

Hope it's not an expensive training plan.
I think you nailed it, most don't have a clue and the only thing they know is what a couple books said because they never expericenced it themselves. Someone who knows what there doing will change a plan mid week depending on how your feeling and wants to know how fresh you are or how you felt during certain workouts. The main red flag I see is very little rest and the same thing over and over which is just going to lead to overtraining and buring out. Certain times of the year call for different workouts, from what your saying either he has no clue what he's doing or he doesn't have the time because he has too many clients so he just throws something together and doesn't give a shit. There aren't many good coaches but alot of shitty ones.

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by wingguy

KWalker wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 3:35 am
Coaches that train pros are rarely good for normal athletes who cannot handle the training load and often have other life stresses.
Still depends on the coach though. Friend of mine had the opportunity to be coached for free for a while by someone who'd coached olympic athletes in several disciplines, and managed the overall coaching apparatus of several national sporting bodies. The coaching plan she got from him after one consultation was far more tailored to her specific goals, with much more emphasis on sustainability and time-crunched training than anything she got from her standard local coach. On top of that, any email querying certain aspects of the training, or asking what the most important part of a particular workout was would be asnwered with a huge amount of useful detail on how to do it, why to do it, what the intended benefit would be and how to ascertain if it's having the right effect. All in a positive, encouraging and enthusiastic manner. To say I was impressed would be a huge understatement!

To the OP - at best you simply have a personality clash with the coach. At worst you're getting cookie cutter training plans with no more personalised input than you'd get from a book. Either way, it doesn't sound like it is to your benefit to continue with him.

by Weenie

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