How to Get the Most From Your Coach

There is a lot of talk about how to find a good coach and what makes a good coach, but what about being a suitable and good client? In my many years of coaching I've seen lots of promise in athletes that was never realized.

Why? Because the client didn't do their part.

More: 10 Tips for Finding the Right Coach

Let me explain: A client's commitment goes beyond just doing the research to find a good coach; they also have to take responsibility for getting the most out of that coach.

The Responsibility Is on the Client

It's your fitness, your big race, your goals and your body. You have to do the hard work so you should be part of the planning and decision making process. Start by looking at the big picture with your coach. Together you should define your goals then break down your training phases by month, week and day to ensure you will be on track for meeting those goals.

More: How to Set Inspiring Goals

When it comes to the actual workouts, there are three key questions you should be able to answer (If you don't know the answers to these questions, you need to ask your coach.):

  1. How do I do this workout properly?
  2. Why am I doing this workout?
  3. How does this workout help me achieve my goal?

3 Keys to Successful Workouts

Know exactly how to perform the workout. Say your workout looks something like this: 3x15 minutes in zone 4 with four-minute rests. Is that enough information? No. Are you supposed to go uphill, stay on flat roads, do it on a road bike or on a TT bike? How long should the warm up be? What about cadence? What if you have extra time? You have to know all the details to get the most out of your session, so ask questions.

Know why you are doing the workout. Doing workouts blind is a waste.? You have to know the purpose of your workout. What is the physiological adaptation you are looking for? What movements should you focus on? What should your target heart rate be? Pay attention to your body while you are doing the workout and report back to your coach.

Know how the workout pertains to your goal. Know where you're going with everything you do. Why are you doing run intervals on a hill in Z4 while training for an Ironman? When you pick apart your race or discipline, you'll see you can train for each separate part with specific workouts. Make sure you understand which part you are training for and it will help you get more from the session.

More: 3 Drills to Improve Your Running Technique


The athlete has to be proactive. Coaches don't read minds. No coach is going to wake you up in the morning and ask you how you slept. If you're tired, or if you don't have time to do three hours next Sunday, you have to communicate that.

I once heard someone say: "My coach stinks. I haven't talked to him in two weeks."? I asked him if his coach ignores his calls and he said, "I don't know I haven't called him."

It's the athlete's responsibility to reach out if they have questions or concerns. You have to communicate with your coach.

More: Do I Need a Triathlon Coach?

Know Thyself

Listen to your body. Your coach doesn't know what "I felt horrible" really means. Horrible how?? Tight, empty, weak, tired, good at first then bad? If you know you just can't handle the workout on a given day, you have to communicate that. Figure out why you're not feeling well and move forward. One reason for having a coach is to get their objective point of view, but you have to tell them what's going on.

Take a few minutes to send a quick note: "Hey coach, I think I can go faster. The Z4 intervals are feeling almost easy and I am in the upper end of the zone." If you're too busy to e-mail, too busy to take control and own your training, you're too busy to train. Organize your life.

More: How to Choose a Beginner Triathlon Training Program

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