The first time I even considered hiring a triathlon coach my friend told me that when she did it, it wasn't a great experience. She said, "All communication with this guy was through email. He never wanted to talk, and I felt like I was not a priority at all. Once in a while he would allow text messages, but hardly any actual conversation."
Not at all what I want in a coach. Not at all what I do as a coach.
I realize some coaches are super busy with tons of athletes and a lot of scheduling, reading data, creating workouts, etc. Most coaches have a full time job in addition to being a triathlon coach. I get this, I really do. But not the way I will coach my athletes. EVER.
To me, hiring a coach means that you are deeply passionate about your race and you care enough to INVEST in it. You see a huge value in making your race even better. You wouldn't spend the money if it wasn't WORTH it to you. You are spending money on someone who will help you take your race to the next level, and it means a lot to you. To me, the relationship with your coach has to be ROCK SOLID and nothing less.
This shouldn't mean hoping for a response to a text message or email. You and your coach need to be on the same page and communicate well together. You have to feel CONFIDENT in your coach and know that he/she is behind you every step of the way. There should be NO GUESSING.
Having coached a few athletes over the past few months I realize now that I will NEVER be the kind of coach that my friend described to me. I won't coach my athletes with one email each week. I feel that an athlete's passion for their race goes WAY DEEP and they need somebody who TOTALLY UNDERSTANDS this and is willing to coach the WHOLE PERSON not just the athlete.
This is different from babysitting. If you're not doing your workouts and I can't see your data I will pretty much know that you are not tracking and we need to re-evaluate your situation. I won't coach somebody who isn't giving me 100%.
But for the athletes that are ALL IN, I believe that knowing the entire person is important. This goes deeper than just uploading workouts and data to Training Peaks. I want to know your family situation, what you do in your free time, and anything else that affects your training. I want to know about your injuries, health issues, and things that you worry about. My athletes have access to me and I will do my best to respond to you as soon as I can. The little stuff in my athletes lives matters to me because it affects everything.
Some coaches would call me crazy for getting so deeply involved with my athletes but I don't really care. As a coach you are dealing with somebody whose passion about racing is HUGE and in most cases they want to commiserate with somebody who REALLY understands their passion. CONVERSATION and TIME is key to good coaching, not just texts and an occasional email. You have to think in terms of the WHOLE PERSON not just the triathlete. Athletes want to be heard. They want you to know their frustrations, challenges, as well as victories. They want your presence too. As a rule, if I can get to an athlete's race I will be there. Yes, I will wait at the finish for you. And take pictures too.