Pros: Triathlon clubs are popping up all over the country—you probably have one in your area. They range from casual meet-ups to serious, structured training squads with like-minded athletes. The inherent competitiveness in group workouts can challenge and push athletes to better performances. And a coach who will plan and periodize the training program can also provide immediate feedback, as well as evaluate skills and make adjustments on the spot. I have always enjoyed my best workouts within a group structure—like most athletes, I can always push myself harder with a little friendly competition. The atmosphere is usually fun and social, and rookies can take advantage of the steep learning curve that comes from training around more experienced athletes.
Cons: Group training can be a double-edged sword, especially for the inexperienced athlete. There is less personalized attention and workouts may not be tailored to each individual’s needs. Coordinating group sessions requires a flexible schedule and may not be as efficient as running or riding from your front door. The competitive atmosphere that can be a great motivator on hard training days can also lead to overtraining if every session is approached as a race. It can be especially hard to train with others when preparing for race day—I tend to do most of my taper sessions on my own so that I can’t get drawn into going too hard at someone else’s pace.