No Cookie-Cutter Plans From This Coach

These days, it seems a lot of times when I get inquires from athletes I sense a lot of fear and skepticism in their emails that I am going to be one of those coaches who dishes out cookie-cutter programs, ignores their individual needs and falls off the radar with communication after the first month or so. I’ve had athletes tell me how they “caught” a previous coach giving the exact same workouts to various athletes. It makes me sad that apparently many coaches are doing this and making athletes become skeptical. I don’t blame athletes; I would hate to feel like I’m being treated as an anonymous person in a coach’s roster, or worse, feel like I was duped or ignored while sending this person money! So I can understand why an athlete would want to ask a lot of questions up front (and I encourage it!) to make sure they’re making a smart decision on a coach. I love the questions, as you’ll see below.

Athletes who come to me also want help on sports nutrition, everyday diet needs, strength training, managing stress, and staying healthy among other individual needs (rightly so), and I’m like, “Ya, of course, that’s all included if you hire me!” But apparently many coaches ignore all these factors and only dish out the training. This makes no sense to me. If I’m going to coach an athlete, it’s got to be a holistic package that goes beyond written workouts. I get it, though, this type of holistic coaching isn’t easy, it’s time consuming for the coach and it requires more careful planning from a business perspective (which I have taken the time to do).

Plus if you coach holistically as I do, you need to be an expert in many areas, not just exercise science. at the end of the day, all this extra effort is 100% worth it to me, and I enjoy working with athletes on a deeper level! As a result, though, I take on very few full-time coached athletes, and ensure that we have a fair agreement up front that works in the interest of both coach and athlete. As such, I may not have the cheapest monthly fees (nor the most expensive either from what I’ve heard – yeesh!), but as I see it this is better than spreading myself too thin trying to coach 30 people. Plus, in the long run this holistic approach actually SAVES the athlete money so they don’t have to hire multiple coaches/advisors to address all these different factors that go into optimizing performance. It hands down always works out better for the athlete!

Anyway, I thought I’d share my reply to a coaching inquiry the other day…

 


From the athlete:

“Thanks for getting back to me and for sending along the informational PDF. I appreciate it! I am certainly interested, but to be honest, I have to take a look at our family budget and decide if we can afford the coaching. Since it would be a big investment, I do have a few questions before deciding, if you don’t mind…….. 🙂

I was wondering how much specific guidance you and your assistant coach give in the area of strength training, and how you are able to assess (working remotely) what physical imbalances or weaknesses are present. Since this is probably my big area of weakness right now, how would your coaching be directed at my individual needs? I must admit, I have tried working with a coach once or twice before, and I felt like I was just getting a pretty cookbook approach via receiving posted/assigned workouts on Training Peaks – so I have ended up self-coaching. I’ve read tons of books on training, etc – and the self-coaching was working out pretty well, but I’m at a point where I just don’t know the best way forward and need some professional assistance.
Also – how do you incorporate an athlete’s personal schedule into their plan? For example, nutrition advice that takes into account having to cook for an entire family, and workout plans that account for work and family time commitments? I guess what I’m really getting at is – I am in need of advice and coaching that is unique for me and my situation, and not just what I could get from reading in a training book.

Also – last question – I get that face-to-face talking with you is only once or twice per month. How often would I be able to communicate with your assistant coach, either via email or talking?

Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.”

~~~

My reply:

1. Strength training: I have you do an in-depth functional strength assessment that I created myself, where you take videos/photos of the movements/exercises and I give feedback in my analysis. Then my assistant and I build custom strength training workouts based upon the findings that work on your weaknesses and imbalances to correct your issues. These workouts are posted in training peaks but nothing is from a “cookbook” and everything is 100% custom created for your needs (and of course this goes for all written workouts you received from me as well). Strength training evolves with your racing goals.

2. We certainly will talk about your personal life (a lot), and you will see in my startup questionnaire (if we move forward) that I find out as much as possible about you as I can. (Some of my clients say I know more than their spouses do of them lol.) I think it’s incredibly essential to build a training plan around one’s life and fit in what works for that person based on other life commitments you have. Of course, it’s impossible to talk every day and work around your hourly schedule in that way; however, up front we get a good idea of what you have going on to ensure that the training we prescribe makes sense for you, and we check in frequently to make sure the workouts fit appropriately for you. Most of all, I’m looking to AVOID adding too much stress in your life and make sure things are totally manageable. I also allow a lot of flexibility so if you need to switch things around or change workouts every now and then that’s cool. Plus, with all my athletes, I ask them to (in advance) too add notes in training peaks to alert me to travel or special situations that may affect what you can do for training, i.e. add boxes on the appropriate days to let me know in advance when you are traveling for a weekend and what you can/can’t do for training.

3. As far as nutrition goes, I certainly give detailed and individualized diet/nutrition advice and guidelines specific to your needs, but I don’t necessarily write family meal plans. However, as a coached athlete you get free membership to lifepostcollective.com, which is my database of recipes and nutrition resources, and many of my recipes can be used for the whole family!

4. EVERYTHING I do for my athletes is 100% custom, and you won’t find me using pre-written plans or programs that come from a book. Of course, I use ideas and concepts (like MAF) that you can find in books, but I apply this appropriately to an individual needs. None of my athletes have ever been given the same training program, they are all unique! We all progress in a unique way and need these broader concepts to be tailored to what’s best for each person. No cookie-cutter programs!

5. Nutrition work is custom to your needs too. Some of my athletes log food, while with others I don’t allow it due to it becoming a unhealthy obsession (it’s the psychology that matters here); some are higher carb, some are lower carb, and so on, etc….. Plus sports nutrition plans and products used will vary among my athletes. We all work toward common goals i.e. clean eating, fat-adaptation, metabolic efficiency, smart macro timing, avoiding sugar dependence, and healthy mindset toward food but each person’s path to optimization varies. There is NO one-size-fits-all with me.

5. You have access to my assistant coach as you need via email, but I find that not many of my full-time coached athletes need to communicate with her much (keep in mind you have unlimited emailing with me as a full-time athlete!). Plus, I talk to my assistant weekly or so regarding all my athletes so that she and I are always on the same page, and she is updated on your needs frequently.

Lastly, I want you to have the peace of mind that I don’t take on more than 10 full-time athletes at any given time these days. I make sure it’s about quality over quantity!!!

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