When it comes to training and the desire to improve your performance most athlete inevitably have to face a certain question at some point: Train with a coach or train myself??!!
Our answer is simple – Train with a coach – but the way to get there is not an easy one and you have to watch out for certain pitfalls.
Over the last couple of years I’ve tried it both and at the beginning training for yourself without a coach worked pretty fine. When getting into a new sport it is fairly easy to improve but it’s also very easy to make mistakes. The result was an overall improvement in performance while sacrificing numerous races and season highlights due too colds, injuries and overtraining.
I finally decided to work with a coach but soon had to realize – I might just be impossible to coach me. I always knew better cause hey: I read my stuff. Right? I read magazines and books and without trying had made up my mind about certain ways of training already. Sound familiar? I moved on to the next coach in the hope to find somebody who works better for me. Yet I hadn’t realized that the coach wasn’t the issue – it was my mindset. I slowly started to understand this and decided: With coach number 3 it’s all going to be different. I am going to follow the plan and listen 100%. Well, that didn’t work either. The coach didn’t really get me and my health background and when I finally got to the point to tell him, that I my body was not able to hold up with his regimen, it was already too late. I had to quit a half marathon about 5k into the race because my pace drastically dropped below the slowest training sessions I ever ran. After telling him he agreed to take it easier only to send me out for a 10mile interval run 2 days after the miserable drop-out in the half marathon. Well, that was the end of our partnership.
Coach number 4 and my current coach Susanne Buckenlei from Professional Endurance Team finally got me – and I finally got the point of what it means to be working with a coach. She’s the kinda coach that is tough enough so you don’t even dare just messing around and doing your own thing but she’s also the kind of coach that is interested in and understands each athletes personal background, work schedule, history of health related issues and so on. At the same time she teaches you and encourages you to listen to your body and cut short a session when needed. There is no good reason to push through a session when your feeling like sh…
After working with her for a good solid 6 months I’ve learned many things but one of the most important lessons is: A coach who’s interested in the sport and the athlete and actually holds a degree in what he’s doing is worth gold. No matter how much you read, learn and think to know – a good coach is a professional in his line of work and get’s you a lot better than you think.
Just as a little example: After a really good and solid week of training during which I felt good in every single training session I felt like hammering it out the following week and her only comment was. That was a great week – you definitely need an easy week next week. I was like: Hold it coach – i said I felt fantastic in every session and even now I am full of energy. Let’s rock it. What can I say 2 days into the easy week I really felt my body working and adjusting to the good week of training I just had and I know from experience now: Had I put in another day or two with the volume I felt like doing – I would have ended up in sick in bed and would have missed 7-9 days of good training. Sound familiar? 🙂
Think about it if a coach might just be the right thing for you to take your training and racing to the next level.