Online Triathlon Coaching – Why You Need An Online Coach


If you’re new to triathlons, you may still be finding your feet and working your own way through the training and events.

But if you’re really into them and planning on competing at a higher level, online triathlon coaching could be the missing piece to push you to your peak.

A coach will help to focus your training to help you reach your goals as soon as possible. They’ll also help you optimize your nutrition so everything works together to push you forward.

And the beauty of coaching is that these days, it can be online. No need to meet up in person – everything can be done digitally, and it’s not as complicated as it may seem.

What is an Online Coach and What Do They Do?

An online coach doesn’t differ that much from a regular coach, except that they won’t be standing next to you while you’re training.

They’re still a personal coach who has your best interests at heart, and who will offer you tailored advice based on your training and your goals. Often, they’ll help you put together training and nutrition plans that suit you, your schedule, and your preferences.

They also give you guidance on a variety of things, including form, recovery, and cross-training. Another excellent benefit they provide is a good bit of accountability!

The beauty of an online coach is that you can choose one anywhere in the world. If you really resonate with someone who lives in a different country, they can still become your coach.

Technology has advanced to the point where coaching can easily be done online, across a variety of platforms. Video calls and interactive apps like TrainingPeaks make it easy to share all your data.

Why Are There More Online Coaches Now?

Online coaching has also become extremely accessible in the last few years.

Thanks to running- and triathlon-focused apps and platforms, coaches and athletes can connect online and share a fairly normal athlete-coach relationship without having to be physically in the same place.

Advantages of Using an Online Coach

1. Availability

Running coaches in your immediate area are limited. They’re also often busy. There’s always a chance that you may not be able to find the perfect coach for you in the near vicinity.

But online, there’s always someone available who’s a great fit for you. Sure, you may need to do some research, because your pool of available coaches will be much wider.

But you’ll always find someone that you work well together with, which may not happen if you limit your search to coaches nearby.

Because they work with clients online, over a digital platform, they’re usually also more available to provide real-time feedback and their expert advice on race day.

2. Improved Training

Working with an online coach is an easy and convenient way to improve your performance. You may be wondering why you need a coach at all, but having someone to give you advice and guidance can be the difference between a tough race and a new personal best.

A coach will ensure that you’re training effectively, eating properly, and that you’re well prepared for race day. They’ll also push you to achieve more than you thought you could, which many of us never do on our own!

Without a coach, you can still progress. But you’ll do it much more slowly. If you have lofty goals, like competing in an Ironman triathlon, a coach is a necessity.

3. Value

Triathlon can be a pricey affair. You need equipment for three different disciplines, fuel for on the road, apparel that keeps you cool, as well as race registration fees and transport costs to and from races, which may include accommodation.

You may be wondering why you should shell out extra cash on a coach, especially when you can follow a program you download online. But we can guarantee, the right coach is worth their weight in energy gels.

An online coach is more affordable than you may assume. But the value you’ll get from an online triathlon coach is immense.

Rather than downloading a generic program and trying to customize it yourself, you’ll have a highly skilled coach fine-tuning your training and nutrition for you and your exact situation, so you get the best out of all that cash you’ve spent on triathlon.

Investing in a coach is absolutely worthwhile in order to make sure you get the most out of all your other triathlon investments!

4. Choice of Services

Most online coaches offer a variety of different coaching packages so you can choose something that really suits you, your budget, and your training needs.

If one particular online coach doesn’t offer quite what you need, you can easily keep looking until you find someone who does.

5. Goal Setting and Adjustments

A coach will help you to set realistic goals for yourself. You may aspire to participate in Ironman in 3 months time, but if you’re really not at that level, your coach will be honest. But not only that, they’ll help you structure an appropriate training program to get you Ironman-ready in a decent amount of time.

When you start working with a coach, they’ll want to know your current state of fitness, what you’re participating in, your goals, your current training and training availability, and your history of injuries.

All of this will give them a good indication of what kind of training you’re capable of. They’ll also be able to tell you if you’re overtraining or not pushing yourself hard enough, and they’ll create a training plan for you to adjust accordingly.

Your coach will also be able to make small adjustments to your training and nutrition on-the-go, for example, if you’re sick on a particular day or you get injured.

6. Nutrition and Recovery

Setting up a catered-to-you training plan is just one of the functions a coach will perform. They’ll also help you optimize your nutrition to work with your training, from your daily meals to your on-the-road nutrition.

Your coach will also give you valuable advice about recovery. They may set up a recovery plan for you that includes things like stretching, yoga, foam rolling, or using compression gear.

They’ll be able to advise you on active recovery as well, including different forms of cross-training and when would be best to incorporate them.

7. Improving Form

Triathlon is a comprehensive sport. You need to have excellent form in three different disciplines, and they’re all quite different from each other. Most triathletes begin in one of the three disciplines and branch into triathlon, so chances are your form is pretty decent in one, at least.

But it can be tough to get it right in all three, all the time. A triathlon coach will be able to give you well-rounded information on improving your form, which can have a hugely positive effect on your overall performance.

There are plenty of apps and platforms out there that allow you to share videos of yourself so your coach can take a good look and give you advice. You may be surprised at what a coach picks up on a video that you didn’t even realize you were or weren’t doing!

8. Different Communication Platforms to Choose From

Do you prefer to communicate over instant messaging? Or are you one of those people who likes a good chat on the phone? Whatever your preference, an online coach can be found who’ll accommodate that.

Phone call, video call, text messaging, IMs, email… Whatever you prefer, you can find someone willing to coach you over it.

This is also ideal for people who are naturally shy! You don’t need to meet face-to-face or talk on the phone. You can find something that truly works for you, and still get an excellent coaching session without having any discomfort and awkwardness.

9. Regular Check-ins

Accountability is a hugely important factor, and a coach will give you that. Even if your coach is in another country, in a different time zone, they won’t take it lightly if you skip a training session or eat a cheeseburger and fries while you’re training for a big race.

Depending on the package you choose with your coach, you may get daily or weekly check-ins. This is an opportunity to discuss any of your thoughts about your training or nutrition, so your coach can make adjustments if necessary.

The coach will most likely ask how you’re feeling about the training, how your body feels, if you’ve had any difficulties in the past week or few days, and so on.

So regular check-ins are excellent for both accountability and tweaking your program and nutrition as you move through a training and eating plan.

10. Training Tests

When you train on your own, it can be hard to figure out if you’re actually progressing or not. Coaches will give you training tests on a regular basis to establish your baseline and compare to find out if you’re improving or not.

Generally, this is at the discretion of the coach. But training tests every 4 to 8 weeks is common, depending on the event you’re training for.

Based on the results, they can change things on your training or nutrition plan to help you progress.

11. Variety of Workouts

Any qualified coach will be able to help you incorporate a variety of different workout types to improve various things about your fitness. They’ll tailor your fitness program to incorporate speed training, endurance training, technique drills, and strength training.

They may also suggest specific forms of cross-training that they believe will benefit you and help you take bigger steps toward your goal.

A coach will also be able to suggest the right length and intensity of a workout for you, based on your fitness level and your goals. Usually, they’ll provide workouts in a format that you can use on a laptop, phone, or watch.

12. Gear and Mental Strength

Do you know if you’re using the right gear or if something else may be better suited to you? A coach can help you with that too.

Often, we simply stick with the first bit of gear we found success with, but it may be the optimal choice for you at the time. Your coach will be able to make gear recommendations based on the results you’re after.

They’re also great at building mental strength, along with physical stamina. Having someone motivate you and teach you tips and techniques to keep you mentally sharp is invaluable, and it’s not just something most of us can do without a coach.

13. Real-Time Workouts

Your coach will build workouts specifically for you. They’ll be detailed and set out in a specific way for a reason.

For example, your bike training workout may include a certain power number that you need to hit on your power meter, or your running may require you to achieve a specific cadence.

In many cases, your coach will require feedback in the form of data from your watch or bike computer to be sure that you did the workout at the right intensity and pace. This is to ensure that you’re in the optimal heart rate zone at the right time to maximize your training in all disciplines.

14. Analyzing Metrics

You may not know what all your metrics mean, but a coach will. Using running apps or platforms allows you to export your data directly to your coach, who will examine it and tweak your workout plan accordingly.

This is a huge benefit for those who aren’t very data-savvy. You still get the benefit of workouts tailored for you and your data, without having to wade through it all on your own and incorporate it correctly.

15. Race-Day Strategies

Once your coach knows you and your strengths and weaknesses, they’ll be able to provide excellent advice for dos and don’ts on race day.

Based on your training with your coach, they’ll be able to put together an achievable but challenging race strategy that will push you but give you a good chance of reaching your goals.

16. Personal Support

If you stick to one coach for a long period of time, it’s easy to become friends. Your coach may become the person you go to when you need to talk about other personal issues, or when you need advice on stuff that’s not really triathlon-related.

Keep in mind that not all coaches will be happy with you bringing personal problems into your coaching sessions. But if you find one with whom you click and work well together for a longer period of time, you may just find that you’ve gained a friend as well as a coach.

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Shanna is a writer who runs... And cycles, jumps rope, and lifts weights. She lives in beautiful South Africa and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with other avid athletes.