3 tips to a successful long-distance relationship with a triathlon coach


In partnership with REST Performance.



Hey guys. Many of us are so busy they we are really trying to find shortcuts when it comes to our triathlon journey. Now, I’m not meaning cutting the course. Please don’t send me hate mail thinking that’s what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about cutting the course.

What I’m talking about is finding ways to make the most efficient and best time out of the miles that you are running, biking, and swimming. Many times a lot of us don’t have the know-how of how to piece this all together. We want a little more than a book or a training plan that is just sitting on a piece of paper. We want to have someone that’s able to look at our life circumstances. We’ve got a really short amount of hours, and we need to get the most out of our training sessions. Maybe we need a fluid schedule, but we, as the athlete, don’t know how to change the schedule to best suit our bodies. Maybe we just want some companionship, so we seek out having a coach.

I want to share with you guys my top three ways to work with a virtual coach. I don’t mean virtual reality. I mean ones that don’t live local to you, ones that aren’t able to run with you on your regular run pass every day, or come to the lap lanes and stand on the deck and throw pool boys at you. Just kidding, but I did have a coach that did that, not a tri coach.

I want to share with you guys some of my top tips of how to make the most out of this relationship with a virtual coach, a long distance coach, so that you can get the best out of your miles and the best for your investment that you’re making in a coach.

Athlete tips are brought to you by Rachel Brenke from Fit Legally and partnership with Rest Performance, the world’s first smart bed. Their mission is to get you, the every day athlete, into mode rest.

Tip number one is interviewing a coach. It sounds like such a simplistic thing, but I have seen so many athletes that have wasted time and money with coaches that they don’t mesh with and don’t understand their life circumstances or don’t really operate in the way that they need them to. In fact, coaches can often become your friends. We need to remember, we still have the coach/athlete relationship to maintain, but at the same time you want someone who understands what your life is like and how it’s all working.

The only way you can do this is by interviewing coaches. In fact, I found multiple coaches that I interview before I finally settled on one. It was great that many of them were willing to sit down by Skype or by phone so that we can see what our personalities were like.

I had followed some of them on Facebook and we were in a couple of groups together and that’s what initially attracted me to them. Once I sat down and interviewed them in a process and they’re interviewing me too, because coaches also have some discretion about what athletes they’re going to take. When we got into the interview we’d realized that we’re just better off staying Facebook community friends and not coach/athlete maybe just because our personalities didn’t mesh or the coaching philosophy didn’t really fit in with what I thought I should be doing.

Now again, not saying I know everything, but sometimes you just know when something is not right for you. That’s why it’s very important to do these initial interviews up front and even take it a step further. In those interviews and those initial discussions with the coach, and actually this could carry through the entire relationship, you need to talk about expectations with one another, what you expect of yourself and what you expect of the other person.

For me, my coach has been really good at being able to stay in communication with me along the path and me saying, “Hey, I’m going to be on travel. Here’s what I expect I will have and here’s what I expect I won’t have accessibility to,” like a pool. If she’s able to work around that, but she’s also in turn able to tell me these are the key workouts that you cannot fudge on. I know you’re traveling but this is what you need to do.

We also have expectations of when the training plans can be uploaded, how we’re going to communicate together, how often we can communicate. We also don’t want to use and abuse one another. We don’t want to be so infringing upon the other person’s time. Sure, we’re hiring them as a coach and they’re investing in us as an athlete, but there’s still a line. This initial consultation, these initial calls are really going to help hammer all this out.

I highly recommend that it actually be a call, Skype, phone, maybe in person if you can do it, but texting is not the way to go because you can’t really hear the inflection and voices and really get a understanding for the person’s personality or be able to adequately explain things like you could face to face.

Step number two in making a successful relationship with a virtual coach boils down to gadgets. I’m not one of those that says you have to have gadgets. I’m a data junky and I love it. I’m in Virginia and my coach is in California so having gadgets that we can communicate and send data through is really important for our relationship. We utilize the Training Peeks app and I’m on a Garmin 935 with other accessories. All of it connects together and connects right into Training Peeks so that she can see my data and I also can see the workouts that are coming.

I had a coach prior to her that the relationship did just not work out well. A, we didn’t take on step one and we didn’t have an initial consultation. I just jumped in the relationship. She also was sending my training plans by text or by email and it just really wasn’t in a format that worked with how I function. Training Peeks does that for me. They’re not paying me to say this. Just many of you use it and I use it and I found it to be very successful. I can access it through the computer or on my smartphone so that I can see my workouts at any time.

One of the great things I love about it too is that I can export from the Training Peeks system after my coach just uploaded it and export it right into my watch so that my watch can also have the workout already pre planned for me.

It’s really important for the relationships that have the coaching values and focus on data. You guys have tools that you can both work with, both know how they work together and make sure that they’re accessible to both of you. You don’t want a coach that just has their own systems and doesn’t really provide you any insight and vice versa.

This goes back to number one. I also talk with my coach how much data is she wanting to have and we found that through Training Peeks that gives the amount of data that she needs and if she needs additional she just sends me a message and I give it to her.

Tip number two, for a successful long-term or … Tip number two, for a successful long-distance relationship with your coach is through the use of gadgets in order to manage your data.

Tip number three is just making sure that you guys have built trust together. This isn’t going to happen right off the bat. You can’t build trust just on certifications or relationships that you’ve had with them through Facebook community groups or Reddit or wherever you met them. You have to give it time to trust. If you get to a point that you’re not actually trusting the coach then you’re just throwing your money away. Totally like that, just like this, but it’s really important that you don’t just throw money away and waste your time.

We only have limited amount of time in our seasons. We really only have a limited amount of time in our lives. We want to make sure that we’re getting the most out of the training that we’re doing. In order to do that you have to trust your coach and trust your process, especially if you’re getting to a point in your training, maybe of high distance, high volume, or a high speeds, you’re going to start getting really fatigued and you really need somebody that you can depend on. If you don’t trust them or maybe they talk down to you or they’re not supportive, those are definite keys that means you probably shouldn’t have them as a coach.

That’s not a be-all and end-all. Maybe you’re somebody that doesn’t need the cheerleader and the rah-rah, and that’s okay. I also don’t think that coaches should treat their athletes awful. In the inverse, I don’t think athletes should treat their coaches awful. I think it needs to be built on trust and respect.

You guys are probably listening to this, getting ready to click away and think, “Yeah, that’s common sense. Why are you talking about this? We’re all adults.” I wouldn’t be talking about it if I didn’t see this happen. Some of my friends are sitting and coaching athlete relationship and as the athlete they don’t trust their coach but they’re afraid to fire them. They’re afraid to terminate the relationship, maybe because they don’t want to start over with a new coach, or they don’t know how, or they’re afraid to hurt their feelings.

At the end of the day you need to be able to have the trust, the respect, the right tools, and to make sure that you have the open flow of communication with them. I get it. I’m not a confrontational person. I don’t like firing people or terminating relationships at all, but there becomes a point when it can work negatively against you and we don’t want that for your athletic pursuits.

I hope these three tips have helped you guys. They are really I think key to having a successful long distance relationship with a tri coach to make sure you’re not wasting your money and your time. Best of luck in your training. Leave some comments below if you guys have any other tips so others can learn from them as well.


3 tips to a successful long-distance relationship with a triathlon coach

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