There are a lot of reasons to get a coach. I’ve heard people hate on getting a coach if you’re not a super crazy fast professional, like why hire someone to direct you for a “hobby.” I think that’s sort of silly. Just because someone likes running or triathlon or racing, doesn’t mean they want to become an expert in physiology or training mechanisms. I like to eat, so I pay people to make me food at restaurants; I have no desire to become a chef.
The main reasons people seem to hire a coach are:
- They simply don’t know how to train for an event and they’re buying the actual scientific knowledge required.
- They (and most of us fall into this category) do a terrible job of self-regulating and self-directing. They may have the knowledge, but they couldn’t apply to themselves.
- They need some kind of accountability/motivation.
I mostly tend to fall into the last two, though I also like having someone tell me what to do when I’m trying a new event and have no idea how to approach it. Right now, though, I’m coaching myself. Like I mentioned before, there are a few reasons for this. My schedule is in flux right now — how am I supposed to expect someone else to keep track of all my different, constantly-changing obligations? My injury situation is in flux — how am I supposed to expect someone else to keep track of all my different problems and how I feel any given day?
Mostly, though, I just didn’t find the person I wanted. When my first choice was busy, no one else seemed like the right fit. I have some time-sensitive plans and goals right now, so I don’t feel like getting to know someone new. While I do have (tons and tons) of friends who are coaches, man, I really dislike mixing friendship or relationships with telling me what to do. Not that some of my coaches haven’t become friends, but I get the sense I’m probably difficult to coach and, also, just difficult, so if we’re friends first and you haven’t experienced that, then we may not be friends after. That narrowed down the options and then, well, I don’t have unlimited money. So, coaching myself it is. And, anyway, I’m not half bad at coaching myself at something I know (meaning I may have to find someone to tell me what to do for Ironman, because I don’t know shit about that) — as long as I don’t fall too hard into a cycle of self-hate, overtrain, exhaustion, cut all my workouts, repeat.
There are some problems with coaching yourself, though.
1. Cycle of self-hate, overtrain, exhaustion, cut workouts, repeat.
2. Yesterday, I had on the schedule 2:30-3:00 ride with 3 x 10′ at half-Ironman pace (170-175W for me, I mean I think, who knows, I haven’t done a half-IM in two years). This seemed logical because I’m trying to transition from triathlon training to marathon training for CIM, but I’m also doing a cross-training-heavy marathon approach, because I don’t do well with high run mileage. And, I’m laying the groundwork for Ironman training post-December. So, many 3-hour rides with some tempo work both builds up my bike fitness and base, while training my aerobic capacity at that sort of effort level.
But, my legs were feeling heavy yesterday and after the first 10′ I wanted to cut it down to 2 x 10′. Why did I pick three times? Would two be good enough? Or would I miss the whole point of the workout with just two? I wanted my legs to be ready for the actual hard run workout Wednesday morning, was I pushing them too hard in a not key workout? Or not enough? If someone else had written 3 x 10′ on my schedule, I would have just done it. I would have assumed they had a reason and knew what they were doing. Maybe they would know what they were doing, or maybe they had just picked three times the same way I picked three times. But, I would have believed.
You lose the ability to not look behind the curtain when the wizard is you.
3. Today, I did a Coach Mario run workout. (I don’t usually like to give away other people’s workouts, because maybe they feel protective of them, as if the workout itself is the secret. But, of course it’s not. There is no secret. Mario doesn’t seem to care, though, in fact he’ll tell you workouts to do if you ask him — or buy his book. Because, why hide the real secret: that you still have to do the work.) The workout was 4 x [4′ at 10K pace (6:20), 1′ rest, 30″ hill sprint, 3′ rest]. It’s shockingly hard. And, halfway through of course I wanted to stop. I knew no one would care if I stopped. There was no coach to tell me I needed to toughen up or to hold me accountable. It was just me, by myself, on a path off a road you’ve never heard of. So, I had to be my own coach at that point. I said: Suck it up; there’s no cutting this workout, you just have to do it, all of it and you have to nail it.
And, that was that. I did it, all of it.
4. Sometimes you need to listen to your body. Sometimes you need to ignore what it’s saying. And, there’s no one else to tell you which times are which. So, you better not lie to yourself.