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Coach Comparo Part 2 | Choose The Right Coach

So you finally decided to get into the crazy world of triathlon huh? Now, after joining a couple of races and buying all the go-fast gadgets ever invented, it’s time to get serious! The question most newbies ask us (which was the catalyst for this article) is “who can you recommend as a triathlon coach?”

Read Part 1 of our Coach Comparo here.

coachcomparomainslideshow

Believe it or not, up to now we still can’t give a straight answer to that question. Why? Because there’s just so many variables to consider.

A conversation with your future Coach may be like this one :

“Hello?”
“Hi, Its me (insert name). I have a Questio…”
“Wait!.., Do you smell that?”
“No, I don’t smell anything..”
“Oh, wait. I know that smell. It’s you getting slower and fatter. Get your ass back on the treadmill!”
“yes Sir”
“Good to talk to you.”
“Yeah, you too.”

Did you find that rude? Arrogant? or did that persuade you to HTFU (Harden The F*ck Up) and train? Different coaches will have different appeals, meaning that a coach may easily be suited to one type of athlete versus another. Some coaches have a strong history of participation in the sport, or a strong academic background in human performance with a degree in a field.

But does that mean they are the best?

So what makes a coach a good coach? How do I know that he/she is the right coach for me? How much budget should I allot for it?

For this SBR.ph Super Special, we talked with 3 of the most well known coaches in the country today and gave them a generic questionnaire. The questions we asked them are 100% identical.

Our intention is not to pit all the triathlon coaches in a mano-y-mano. But rather, help the newbies and the athletes looking for a coach, to find one that’s perfect for them. At the end of the day, it’s important that you find a coach that suits your personality and who is knowledgeable and adept at applying that knowledge to the needs of different individuals. Your coach should be someone who can push you to excel to your personal bests when it is right for you, but also a person who can help you get through the challenges and frustration of being an athlete which can take the form of a bad race, poor training day, or even injury.

Note : We exerted all efforts and tried our best to contact ALL the new local triathlon coaches. If they’re not here, that means they didn’t reply/answer the questionnaire or we’re not able to touch base with them. Also, if you see a blank answer below, that means the coach that we interviewed skipped it / didn’t want to answer.

THE QUESTIONS :

THE BASICS

  • Name :
  • Coaching company/group:
  • Number of years coaching:
  • Where are you based:
  • Coaching Background (include academics if applicable):
  • ITU Coaching Level (N/A if not applicable):
  • How many athletes do you currently coach, and is there a maximum to how many you’ll take on per season?
  • Rate (per session/per season) :
  • How to contact :
  • Accomplishments as an athlete :
  • Coaching highlights (notable accomplishments by athletes coached)

COACHING DYNAMICS

  • Fast athlete = good coach?
  • How many hours a week do you typically prescribe for athletes (newbie’s and regulars)?
  • Training Philosophy/Mantra :
  • Thoughts on ITU Certification?
  • Knowledge about bike fitting. Can you also do a bike fit for your athletes?
  • How important is the following to your training?

-Heart rate :
-Cycling Cadence (Training and Racing) :
-Power meter :
-Warm up/Cool down :
-Stretching :

  • Since I’m your client, what questions do you have for me?
  • Why should I hire you as a Coach?
  • I want to get you as my coach but I live in the province or somewhere far away from your area. How do we go about this?
  • Can you handle non-swimmers (zero swim knowledge) and teach them how to swim?
  • Do you also teach non-bikers (zero biking knowledge/can’t balance) how to bike?
  • Thoughts on training/racing nutrition?
  • How will I receive my workouts? Do they come monthly, weekly, by fax or email?
  • What happens if I get sick or I simply couldn’t train? How will this affect my training plan and key workouts? How often will you review and make revisions to my plan? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?
  • Where do you fall between high volume/low intensity and low volume/high intensity?
  • Do you provide one level for all triathletes or are there different levels? Will a triathlete who’s preparing for a sprint race receive the same set of workouts that someone who is preparing for a ½ Ironman? Will a 15-hour Ironman Finisher get the same workouts as an 11-hour Ironman finisher?
  • What classes, clinics, and training camps do you host?
  • How will you evaluate my progress? Qualitative feedback? Heart rate data? Power files?
  • How often can I talk to you?
  • How do I provide you with my data? Training Peaks? Email?
  • How many one on one sessions do we have?
  • During my A race will you be there as a coach? Or will you be racing too?
  • Lastly, we’re seeing a lot of “triathlon coaches” out there, what’s the biggest difference between a coach and an experienced athlete sharing his/her knowledge? What makes a coach, a coach?

The Coaches (Click On The Picture)

Don VelascoPhotobucketPhotobucket


THE BASICSName : Don Velasco

Coaching company/group: FlyingDonV Coaching

Number of years coaching: 1-2

Where are you based: Quezon City area. However, I can be reached easily since I do online coaching (distance is not a problem).

Coaching Background (include academics if applicable): Athlete Performance Profiling via Lactate Testing and Analysis. Detailed power meter and heart rate based coaching (training zones, race strategies, and load management /peaking).

ITU Coaching Level (N/A if not applicable): N/A

How many athletes do you currently coach, and is there a maximum to how many you’ll take on per season? One Dozen, Up to 30 may be accommodated. Group/team coaching is also welcome.

Rate (per session/per season) : Php4,000 Monthly for a Full Triathlon Program (including Strength and Conditioning, Race Strategies, and Post Race Analysis). Programs for running, cycling, etc. are also available (contact for rates).

How to contact : Email [email protected] or text 09178321986

Accomplishments as an athlete :

Consistent Podium finisher. 2nd Fastest Filipino Age Grouper (2 years straight) for Ironman 70.3 Philippines. 2nd Overall Whiterock Tri 2012. Back to back Triunited Series Champion 2012-2013.

Coaching highlights (notable accomplishments by athletes coached):

Better time management and preparation for beginner and advanced athletes. I coach athletes from different backgrounds: from the absolute newbie aiming to finish his first triathlon, to the mid-pack age grouper seeking that elusive podium finish. Moreover, I take pride in helping busy age groupers maximize the time they have to train. By having a scientific approach in training and structure, they are able to spend the limited time they have to train in an efficient and effective manner (good return on investment).

COACHING DYNAMICS

Fast athlete = good coach?

Not all fast athletes are good coaches. A coach should be able to understand, analyze, and explain training phenomena to their athletes. He should be able to relate his/her experience and observations with a sound physiological explanation, and convey this properly to his students. A good coach is someone who understands what’s happening to his athletes and makes appropriate measures to address weaknesses and maximize strengths.

How many hours a week do you typically prescribe for athletes (newbie’s and regulars)?

Everything depends on the type of race one is preparing for. For newbies who want to join a sprint triathlon, 6-9hrs per week is acceptable. Most age groupers training for an Olympic or Half Ironman usually need 10-13hrs per week. There are some exceptions as everyone responds to training stimuli differently (fast responders, slow responders etc.)

Training Philosophy/Mantra :

Smart training beats hard training. A well thought of training approach is essential for success. By constantly analyzing and evaluating progress through feedback, it’s easier to achieve the desired outcome. Having a well thought of plan helps maximize the investment cost of training and racing. We should always remember that the ultimate goal of all training is to maximize the training effect, not to be the most tired.

Thoughts on ITU Certification?

It’s a nice thing to have, especially once they offer it again locally. However, the true mark of a good coach goes beyond any certification. An analytical eye and proper athlete-coach dynamics is still the top priority. Furthermore, there are still a lot of concepts and ideas that aren’t discussed or taught in ITU certification courses. Having a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience is one of the most important foundations of coaching.

Knowledge about bike fitting. Can you also do a bike fit for your athletes?

Yes, I can fit my athletes to their bikes as well as give dynamic fit analysis. I also give my athletes input in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, handling, and comfort.

How important is the following to your training?

-Heart rate : It’s important as it gives the athletes a parameter they can observe. This is a good gauge of the effort they’re putting in. My training and race analysis relies heavily on HR and perceived exertion.
-Cycling Cadence (Training and Racing) : All people have a natural cadence preference. The most important thing is to identify the ideal cadence for each rider. Apart from this, it’s also important to widen the power range of the athlete. This gives him extra headroom during races and allows him to maximize his potential.
Power meter : Though not absolutely necessary, this is one of the most beneficial tools an athlete can have. There are numerous ways an athlete can take advantage of this both in training and racing. From training zones, race pacing, and load management, I use power meters to help manage the athlete’s career.
-Warm up/Cool down : A proper warm up primes the body for the effort while a good cool down helps flush out waste products produced during the session.
-Stretching : Flexibility developed through stretching helps prevent injuries. For an inflexible athlete, a sudden twist or jerk may result in a sprain or pulled muscle.

Since I’m your client, what questions do you have for me?

What’s your background, goal, and what’s your schedule like. Apart from that, I’d give a few baseline tests to help me decide what my approach would be and how to go about the training cycle.

Why should I hire you as a Coach?

As your coach, I can give you a detailed day to day program which is tailor fit to your needs as an athlete. Each program I give to my athletes caters towards his abilities, schedule, and goals. This is not some cookie-cutter, “one size fits all” training plan. The programs I give evolve and take shape depending on how the athlete responds and progresses. You could say that the program grows along with the athlete. Furthermore, I am very scientific in my approach. I keep an eye on my athletes by observing things such as heart rate, perceived exertion, and pace/power. This helps me maximize their training effect yet curtails overtraining and exhaustion.

I want to get you as my coach but I live in the province or somewhere far away from your area. How do we go about this?

I do online coaching and ask for feedback from the athlete. This feedback is in the form of data files (heart rate, power, GPS, etc.), and verbal/written anecdotes from the athlete. All these data are taken into consideration when designing the program.

Can you handle non-swimmers (zero swim knowledge) and teach them how to swim?

Yes, I started out with zero swim skills 4 years ago. Learning from scratch gives me an edge in teaching newbie swimmers.

Do you also teach non-bikers (zero biking knowledge/can’t balance) how to bike?

Like swimming, I only learned how to bike 4 years ago. I didn’t know how to ride a bike prior to triathlon; hence, I know the fears, apprehensions, and concerns all new riders have. I’m also aware of what it takes to improve and the skills needed in training/racing.

Thoughts on training/racing nutrition?

This is an often overlooked cornerstone in triathlon. Proper nutrition and supplementation both in training and racing is something I’m very particular about. Each effort level taxes our bodies differently; hence, nutrition should adjust accordingly. One’s approach towards race nutrition should also be scientific. Different people have varying metabolic rates, it’s important to compute the amount of calories needed per hour to prevent hypoglycemia (the bonk). I also provide nutritional strategies based on what a particular athlete needs (body type, power, speed etc.).

How will I receive my workouts? Do they come monthly, weekly, by fax or email?

I send them online on a weekly basis. I really take time to analyze the progress daily/weekly to ensure the athlete gets the proper training he needs. I do not advocate giving monthly programs as it’s best to gauge how an athlete responds on a daily or weekly basis.

What happens if I get sick or I simply couldn’t train? How will this affect my training plan and key workouts? How often will you review and make revisions to my plan? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

Though I give workouts on a weekly basis, I can make revisions on a day to day basis. This mitigates the effect of missed or canceled workouts. This helps the athlete stay on track for his A races.

Where do you fall between high volume/low intensity and low volume/high intensity?

This really depends on the amount of time the athlete has, his/her fitness level, and his/her goals. I can design programs which address the individual needs of the athlete.

Do you provide one level for all triathletes or are there different levels? Will a triathlete who’s preparing for a sprint race receive the same set of workouts that someone who is preparing for a ½ Ironman? Will a 15-hour Ironman Finisher get the same workouts as an 11-hour Ironman finisher?

As I mentioned before, each athlete will receive his/her own personalized program. This means that the athlete gets the appropriate training based on schedule, ability, and goals. I also take the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses into consideration. Thus, the training program aims to develop a well-rounded, strong, and complete athlete.

What classes, clinics, and training camps do you host?

I have several lectures and clinics lined up for 2015. I also set up small training camps for my athletes preparing for a particular race. Apart from this, I share my knowledge and insights through my blog: http://flyingdonv.blogspot.com

How will you evaluate my progress? Qualitative feedback? Heart rate data? Power files?

I have a multifaceted approach in terms of asking for feedback. I like to talk to my athletes and ask about their training sessions. Apart from this, I also use a more objective approach by having my athlete upload their workouts online (hr, power, and GPS files). I look at HR, power, and pace data to help evaluate his/her progress. In doing so, I’m able to manage my athlete’s training load well without the fear of overtraining. It ensures that I am able to steer my athlete in the right direction.

How often can I talk to you?

I like to have dialogues with my athletes. If ever there are any questions or concerns, I’m a message away.

How do I provide you with my data? Training Peaks? Email? I like to ask for qualitative feedback via email, Whatsapp, or SMS. Aside from this, I check my athlete’s training files via TrainingPeaks, Garmin Connect, or Movescount.

How many one on one sessions do we have?

One on one sessions can be easily arranged. Apart from this, athletes are welcome to join training sessions and lectures.

During my A race will you be there as a coach? Or will you be racing too?

I would probably be racing but rest assured that you will have your race strategy ready for your big day.

Lastly, we’re seeing a lot of “triathlon coaches” out there, what’s the biggest difference between a coach and an experienced athlete sharing his/her knowledge? What makes a coach, a coach?

A good coach should be able to analyze, understand, and convey his message well. Experience means nothing if he cannot grasp what’s happening on a physiological level to his athletes. Furthermore, the uniqueness and individuality of each athlete means that a good coach should be able to adjust his training approach according to the needs of the athlete. This is the synthesis between science and art for coaching and training. Managing each athlete’s idiosyncrasies (individualisms) through objective and subjective means is essential for success. Moreover, by connecting and taking part in a dialogues with athletes, a true coach is able to share and convey his plan. Coaching is not just about giving instruction or workouts; it is about imparting knowledge in a way that athletes can understand and grasp.


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THE BASICSName : Norman Pascual

Coaching company/group: Coach Norman Triathlon Coaching System

Number of years coaching: 5 years coaching beginner age-group triathletes

Where are you based: The Fort, Taguig City

Coaching Background (include academics if applicable):

ITU Level 1 – Singapore Sports School, Singapore (2009)

ITU Level 2 – Subic Bay, Philippines (2012)

ITU Coaching Level (N/A if not applicable): Level 1 and 2

How many athletes do you currently coach, and is there a maximum to how many you’ll take on per season?  Currently, close to 50. That’s the maximum for the season.

Rate (per session/per season) : Depends on the program they are getting.

How to contact : coachnorman.tri[email protected]

Accomplishments as an athlete : Full Ironman and 70.3 finisher.

Coaching highlights (notable accomplishments by athletes coached) :

Coaching athletes from couch potato to finishing their triathlons up to Ironman races

COACHING DYNAMICS

Fast athlete = good coach?

Not necessarily.

How many hours a week do you typically prescribe for athletes (newbie’s and regulars)?

6 to 8 hours for newbies. 8 to 12 hours for regulars. Depending on the student’s goal.

Training Philosophy/Mantra :

One step at a time.

Thoughts on ITU Certification?

It adds to the credential of a triathlon coach. It helped me get formally started with triathlon coaching.

Knowledge about bike fitting. Can you also do a bike fit for your athletes?

I recommend my students to a certified bike fitter.

How important is the following to your training?

-Heart rate : essential.

-Cycling Cadence (Training and Racing) : a requirement especially for beginners

-Power meter : optional.

-Warm up/Cool down : Done every training session

-Stretching : done every after session

Since I’m your client, what questions do you have for me?

What are your fitness goals?what many hours a week can you train?

Why should I hire you as a Coach?

Because you wanted to be thoroughly guided from your first day of training up to your first triathlon race (and beyond).

I want to get you as my coach but I live in the province or somewhere far away from your area. How do we go about this?

I offer online coaching through TrainingPeaks.

Can you handle non-swimmers (zero swim knowledge) and teach them how to swim?

Yes.

Do you also teach non-bikers (zero biking knowledge/can’t balance) how to bike?

Yes.

Thoughts on training/racing nutrition?

How will I receive my workouts? Do they come monthly, weekly, by fax or email?

Workouts are received on a weekly basis thru Trainingpeaks.

What happens if I get sick or I simply couldn’t train? How will this affect my training plan and key workouts? How often will you review and make revisions to my plan? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

Revisions can be made on a daily basis if needed.

Where do you fall between high volume/low intensity and low volume/high intensity?

The former falls on base and build phase of the training program while the latter falls on the peak phase of the training program.

Do you provide one level for all triathletes or are there different levels? Will a triathlete who’s preparing for a sprint race receive the same set of workouts that someone who is preparing for a ½ Ironman? Will a 15-hour Ironman Finisher get the same workouts as an 11-hour Ironman finisher?

Students are divided into beginners and intermediate/advance athletes, depending on goals (race to prepare), fitness and skill level.

What classes, clinics, and training camps do you host?

I conduct my own training sessions and monthly training camps.

How will you evaluate my progress? Qualitative feedback? Heart rate data? Power files?

Progress are measured thru monthly time trials.

How often can I talk to you?

Anytime during the day.

How do I provide you with my data? Training Peaks? Email?

Trainingpeaks.

How many one on one sessions do we have?

None. But if it is necessary, I go out my way to have a one-on-one session with the student.

During my A race will you be there as a coach? Or will you be racing too?

I am present on most of the major races watching over the students. Either me on the sidelines or racing with them.

Lastly, we’re seeing a lot of “triathlon coaches” out there, what’s the biggest difference between a coach and an experienced athlete sharing his/her knowledge? What makes a coach, a coach?

-no answer- (cdg)


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THE BASICS Name : Kevin Eijansantos

Coaching company/group:

Number of years coaching: 3 years

Where are you based: Metro Manila (mostly Quezon City)

Coaching Background (include academic if applicable): Coach of 2 promising youth triathletes and have handled age groupers who bikes and is zero in swimming to half-Ironman.

ITU Coaching Level (N/A if not applicable): N/A

How many athletes do you currently coach, and is there a maximum to how many you’ll take on per season?: I’d probably have 20 people as my maximum so I could still give ample time for everybody

Rate (per session/per season) : P400/session or P3500/month

How to contact : [email protected], 09275105185

Accomplishments as an athlete: First Filipino age grouper that jumped to Elite. (I was the kind of athlete who lost a lot not like Elites who were really promising since their first season. I’m the one who’ve bonked and flopped a lot while working to be competitive in the Elite category), almost always at the front of our local races, part of the national team from 2012-2014.

Best splits:

1.5 swim – 19:46

40 bike – 1:03

10k run off the bike – 40:00

Coaching highlights (notable accomplishments by athletes coached):

Nicole Eijansantos – consistent winner of Alaska Ironkids from 2010-2014, Batang Pinoy back to back champ, ITU Hongkong Youth Elite 5th place

Brent Valelo – another youth who is rocking the 2015 season, watch out for this kid.

I’ve thought an athlete by the name of Edward Roquero who can’t reach the 50m in our fist session in the pool to a 28:40 1500m swim split in 10 months swimming 3x a week

COACHING DYNAMICS

Does a good athlete make a good coach?

Not necessarily because if it is true, Michael Jordan should have been coaching already and he said he doesn’t have the capacity to be one.

How many hours a week do you typically prescribe for athletes (newbie’s and regulars)?

More of how many session per sport per week. I always suggest at least 3 session per sport per week whatever your condition is. Consistency and muscle memory is a key.

Training Philosophy/Mantra:

I actually have two: 1) Believe. 2)Form over strength and quality over quantity.

Thoughts on ITU Certification?

Overrated

Knowledge about bike fitting., do you also do a bike-fit for your athletes?

-no answer-

How important are the following to your training?

  • Heart rate :
  • Cycling Cadence (Training and Racing) :
  • Power meter :
  • Warm up/Cool down : VERY IMPORTANT
  • Stretching : A MUST

Since I’m your client, what questions do you have for me?

What’s your goal? Are you in here to lose fat or to really be a triathlete? How much do you want me to partner up with you?

Why should I hire you as a Coach?

-no answer-

I want to get you as my coach but I live in the province or somewhere far away from your area. How do we go about this?

We’d call each other often especially after key workouts of the week and talked about how the program is going.

Can you handle non-swimmers (zero swim knowledge) and teach them how to swim?

OF COURSE :)

Do you also teach non-bikers (zero biking knowledge/can’t balance) how to bike?

I have taught my mom at the age of 42 so I guess I can also but I’d prefer athletes who already knows how to bike.

Thoughts on training/racing nutrition?

-no answer-

How will I receive my workouts? Do they come monthly, weekly, by fax or email?:

-no answer-

What will happen if I get sick or have something come up? How does this affect my training plan and key workouts? How often will you review and make revisions to my plan? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

-no answer-

Where do you fall between high volume/low intensity and low volume/high intensity?

This would depend on the race we are targeting for you.

Do you provide one level for all triathletes or are there different levels? Will a triathlete who’s preparing for a sprint race receive the same set of workouts that someone who is preparing for a ½ Ironman? Will a 15-hour Ironman Finisher get the same workouts as an 11-hour Ironman finisher?

Definitely not. The program would depend on your current condition, your goal and the race we are preparing for.

What classes, clinics, and training camps do you host?

-no answer-

How will you evaluate my progress? Qualitative feedback? Heart rate data? Power files?

Feedback from the athlete.

How often can I talk to you?

Almost all the time :)

How do I provide you with my data? Training Peaks? Email?

-no answer-

How many one on one sessions do we have?

-no answer-

During my A race will you be there as a coach? Or will you be racing too?

I am most of the time supporting my athletes.

Lastly, we’re seeing a lot of “triathlon coaches” out there, what’s the biggest difference between a coach and an experienced athlete sharing his/her knowledge? What makes a coach, a coach?

It’s when a coach can handle his/her athlete’s fear in mind and can bring out the best form of the athlete on race day, that makes the difference. Believe.

Thanks for the time. J

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A triathlete making a comeback and a true blue Scorpio. That sums it up quite nicely :)

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