Choosing a coach (Mark Egan)

There are many coaching options in the market place today ranging from internet based generic plans to more personalised training plans with one to one sessions and a myriad of other options between the two extremes. The amount of choices can make it difficult to select the right coach or programme for you. I selected Racepace and I have provided a testimonial below to hopefully assist those who are considering coaching to select the right one.

As a triathlete, I want to achieve the best results and be the most competitive that I can be. That doesn’t happen by accident. To truly give your all and get the best result you can requires a lot of hard work in training and preparation in the lead up to the race. This can be a minefield for many athletes as although they have good levels of fitness, their organisation, planning and training regime up to the race can be terrible. They may still achieve reasonable results, but will not feel that they necessarily performed to the best of their ability.

It is often difficult for the athlete to realise where they are going wrong, which often leads to frustration whereby they question their athletic ability, when in reality their results could be improved significantly by more specific training and better preparation. The other aspect is where athletes are starved of time due to busy work and personal life’s and therefore need to maximise their training sessions to make each one count. The difficulty with this is that as the athlete is short on time they tend to make every session a hard session, which can be very counterproductive and actually impair their race performance and increase the likelihood of injury.

Given the above the athlete can often be blind to many of the external factors or intrinsic elements which are hindering their performance and as such fail to significantly improve. This is where many turn to coaching in an attempt to improve their performance.

I fall into the category above where I have a hectic work life and as such need to maximise my training as my free time is scarce. Therefore, I decided to look for a triathlon coach in order to maximise my training such that every session was relevant and not wasted, which I hoped would assist me in achieving my goals. This is when I came across Racepace. I had a good read of their website and looked at their impressive racing experience and coaching qualifications. As they were local I contacted Rodger Wilkins to discuss what I needed. We met up and had a session where we talked a lot about my goals and strengths and weaknesses and agreed a way forward.

I was impressed by the way Rodger had taken a real interest in understanding my athletic background, work life and personal commitments and made sure he fully understood what I was aiming for and where I was currently in terms of physical fitness and race experience. I really got the impression that Rodger knew his stuff and wanted to make my programme specific to my personal circumstances and goals rather than just giving me a generic off the shelf programme which didn’t help me but made him a bit of money. Many coaches are in it for the fast buck or are unqualified racers who use coaching to subsidise their own racing ambitions rather than focusing on the athletes.

I can honestly say that during the last 18 months I have been coached by Racepace I have felt that they are entirely focused on the athlete, take real interest in performance, are with you through the highs and the lows and approach training and racing in an extremely professional manner. Money is certainly not what drives them, it is personalised athlete centred coaching, which is a very refreshing change.

Every session is clinically planned, race preparation and planning leaves nothing to chance, the coaches understand the athletes and communicate regularly where sessions are not coached, they request feedback on sessions to gauge where you are at and are extremely adaptable and flexible where the week doesn’t go exactly as planned (due to work commitments mainly for me). This approach to coaching and racing has enabled me to significantly improve my performances, understand my physiology and the criticality of correct pacing and has undoubtedly assisted me to move towards achieving my goals as an athlete.

Outside of the personalised training sessions there are wider group sessions where all coached athletes get together to train. I have found this extremely useful as the group environment creates camaraderie, competition and variety. The focused sessions really drive forward your progression.

Choosing a coach can be complicated as there are a lot of people offering coaching services. Choosing the right coach is essential if it is to be worthwhile. That is why I wanted to write a testimonial for Rodger Wilkins, in the hope that I would assist others to make the right decision and select a coach who really cares about the athlete, has a wealth of racing experience and knowledge, is Level 3 qualified, is the most meticulous person I have met in terms of preparation for sessions and racing and last but not least is very honest and supportive.

I couldn’t recommend the services of Racepace highly enough, it is has been fantastic working with them and I hope this article makes more people who are considering using a coach, select the right one; choose Racepace……you will be glad you did!

Mark Egan - Director at Omega Fire