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Ask A Pro: Train Your Way

  • By Samantha McGlone
  • Published Aug 20, 2012
  • Updated Jan 24, 2013 at 5:11 PM UTC
Photo: Erik Isakson


How do I decide between joining a club, hiring an online coach or just training by myself?

An experienced athlete might like to take control of planning his own training, while a beginner might require more one-on-one instruction and immediate feedback. Some athletes love to train alone on their own schedule, and others thrive on the competitive atmosphere of a group. Figure out what kind of athlete you are and what you are looking to get out of the sport. The cost of coaching can range from free to thousands of dollars a year, but cost doesn’t necessarily correlate to quality—there are just as many great, free, organized group rides and runs around the country as there are bad, expensive, private coaches.

Outlined below are a few of the pros and cons of personal coaching versus group training, so you can decide what you require in a training program in order to make your triathlon experience a positive, productive one.

Online coaching

Pros: Hiring an online coach gives you access to a wide range of levels and styles—from an experienced fellow athlete to a world-class triathlon coach anywhere in the world. A specifically designed program is particularly important for people with a busy daily schedule or who travel frequently. An athlete with significant goals in the sport, such as specific races and qualifying for championships may need this kind of structured program in order to address weaknesses, plan taper and recovery weeks, and to develop a nutrition plan.

Cons: The main drawback to online coaching is the delayed feedback and lack of direct observation by the coach. Frequent communication is vital; a good coach will require feedback from their athletes to adjust loads according to training response. And it is difficult, if not impossible, to correct technique flaws remotely.

A final thing to consider with a personalized program is that without a dedicated training partner, athletes may do most of their training alone. Solo sessions can be helpful for developing mental toughness required for endurance racing, but most of us appreciate a little social time training with other athletes.

RELATED: Eight Reasons Your Coach Hates You

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