The Arguments of a Self-Coached Triathlete

My experience with triathlon has only ever been within the self-coached realm, so these musings are given only from that perspective. However, the internet is inundated with opinions contrary to what I will present here, so I thought I would give a little opposition to those. I have always thought or been told that a tri-coach would be beneficial for the following reasons:

  1. Motivation
  2. Training Plan development
  3. Accountability
  4. Data analysis with experience
  5. Otherwise unrealizable performance gains

Going down the list in order, here are my reasons why I have yet to pay the money for a coach/premium membership/training plan analysis etc and would argue to others why a coach is not necessary:

  1. I have no problem with motivation. Neither for starting a session or hitting the goals throughout the session. I think most endurance athletes that have done it for more than a few seasons lack little in motivation. I am aware of what drives me, and if I have that placed within a goal, I usually need little external motivation.
  2. I actually like putting in the work to figure out my training plans. Internet and literature research on periodization, recovery, peaking for race time and other similar topics will eventually get someone enough knowledge to stumble through developing a good plan for yourself, but it does take time.
  3. Accountability somewhat goes hand in hand for me with motivation. I am not vying for podium finishes or representing sponsors, and thus my goal times become my marker. I do not need to worry about who is making sure I hit my training goals because I am the one who will be happy or disappointed with my performance. No one else really worries whether or not I cross the finish line when I aspired to do so, but I don’t need that to assure that I work hard enough to obtain the goals I set for myself.
  4. Experience backed data analysis is not my strong suit but I think it is so only because I lack the experience. In fact not until this year did I really care that much about all the data that is available to analyze. My best race to date is still one that I did all the training and race unattached to any data. My mentor in the sport was old school, and came from the “race on feeling” mindset, and he was extremely successful. Data analysis is good, but not a reason for me to pay for a coach.
  5. I have a little bit of a hard time with arguing this point. I see it as somewhat of a chicken and egg argument though. How do you (those that advocate for a coach) know that I wouldn’t have realized those same gains without a coach? Everybody I have ever talked to or read about has said that their performance had plateaued until they got a coach. I can understand that, and there definitely is enough evidence and testimonies to back up that argument, but someone had to learn it first before they could coach it. Now they write and sell books. They also want to coach you.

Conclusively, I am not against triathlon coaches for other people, and I have not entirely ruled the possibility out for myself in the future. Of the listed reasons above, number 5 is the most convincing for me. However, if I come home from a barber and have to retouch something he or she did, I always feel like the money I spent was not worth it. I am not arrogant to the point that I am saying a coach can’t teach me something, but I am continually seeing examples of coaches within the price range of what I would be willing to pay, who get overcompensated for what the athlete could many times have done better themselves. I am also not willing to shell out 200-600 dollars a month for someone that is a well-known coach within the industry to look at my TrainingPeaks once a week. That’s just silly talk. Currently I am still realizing considerable gains from self-coaching. We will see if I change my tune if I eventually plateau.

Here are a few resources I have found beneficial as I self-coach for triathlon:


Joe Friel’s Training Bible

Chris Carmichaels Time Crunched Triathlete

Allen and Coogans Training with a Power Meter


Free Training Plan Resources:

If you own a device from Garmin, there are a few training plans on garminconnect and they integrate well to the device and can step you through each workout easily…

Triradar is loaded with free training plans for whatever time of year and whatever distance.

Trinewbies have plans for those that as their name implies, are new to Triathlon.

Beginnertriathlete, along with having a great free training log, also has numerous free training plans mostly based on the perceived effort scale commonly used.

This list is not all inclusive of what I have found helpful, but it is the “best of” after numerous Google searches and time spent trying to hone my methods.  Hopefully some of them will be beneficial to you.  I am always open to other sources or methods to help myself improve my self-coaching.  Feel free to let me know what you have found helpful.   Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving.

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