A cycling coach is arguably the best investment you can make to improve your performance. However, with all the coaches, finding the right one for you can take time and effort.
Many online services offer a cycling coaching program that is short-term focused. They use a combination of grouped workouts called “training blocks” rather than cycling training plans.
Whether you’re a budding junior racer with professional ambitions or a weekend warrior looking to podium in your local crit, a cycling coach can help.
But what exactly makes a good coaching service? Many cycling coaches have developed packaged, unpersonalized training plans they sell to supplement their one-on-one coaching business. Others have embraced technology and developed online, self-serve coaching platforms.
Coaches need to understand how to use their professional knowledge to align it to the athlete’s needs within specific coaching contexts. This requires coaches to have a broad understanding of the wider environment and system in which they work. It also enables them to adapt solutions when things don’t go according to plan.
Cycling coaches are all about a personalized, one-to-one relationship with their athletes. This includes goal setting, plan development, and updates, coaching support, motivation, feedback, guidance, etc. Many coaches also have packaged, ready-to-go training plans that they sell to supplement their one-on-one coaching business.
These are often called “training blocks.” These are short-term groups of structured workouts that work together to achieve a specific, short-term cycling fitness goal. These are often aligned with a particular season or event on the calendar and designed to build up to it or prepare you for it.
While these aren’t the same as having a coach create an annual training plan for you, they can be a great way to get the expert coaching you crave without investing in full-on monthly 1-to-1 cycling coaching. Plus, most of these plans have built-in flexibility to adapt to real life and allow you to train in the time you can make available.
Joining a Road Biking Membership is a great way to get an intense workout without impacting your joints. If you have balance or vision concerns or want to make a lower-impact cardio workout, rowing or the elliptical are also great options.
It’s important to drink to your thirst on rides and to eat enough carbs during them (up to 100g an hour, depending on body weight). This prevents a disastrous energy drop – called a bonk – during long sessions and helps you perform at your best.
Many generic training plans rely on low volumes and high-intensity intervals, which only deliver short-term fitness gains. To build real endurance, you must train with higher volume and do more high-intensity intervals year-round. Strength training greatly impacts your aerobic capacity and can lead to increased 40-minute TT times, Wingate test performance, and higher power output over 6-second intervals. Many cyclists need more time and access to a gym to take advantage of the benefits of strength training.
A coach can also be a source of inspiration and help motivate you during difficult times. There will be plenty of those in competitive cycling – injury, illness, long training rides, and races, or just not feeling great. A coach will provide a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, and a friend, but will always hold you accountable.
Coaching businesses typically have a one-on-one coaching model that includes goal setting, personalized workout development, design, feedback, and motivation. Some coaches have built packaged, generalized cycling training plans that they sell to augment their coaching business – these are not as effective and do not deliver the same level of customization or support.
A good coach can provide testimonials or references from other athletes they’ve worked with. If they cannot, I recommend looking elsewhere.