Before You Pay A Triathlon Coach, Buy These 3 Books

You may know nothing about a triathlon, but you want to jump into the sport full-force because you can swim, bike and run. Before you start searching the internet for a coach and pay astronomical coaching fees, consider a different approach.

Triathlon has three components: a swim, bike and run. A coach is going to create a plan that includes several months of workouts across each of these disciplines. But, these types of plans already exist in detail with helpful instruction and explanation. A few of them are even made by professional triathlon coaches who work with high-level athletes.

Let’s take a look.

1. Swimming Workouts in a Binder

This book contains 100 swimming workouts to prepare you for the swimming portion of your event. Best of all, it’s waterproof!

Swim Workout Plan Includes

  • 3 months worth of training and about 4 workouts per week
  • Focus: endurance, technique, speed
  • Options for strokes, but the workouts can all be swam freestyle

Nick and Eric Hansen are your “coaches” by way of this book. Nick was a former coach for the U.S. National Swimming Team and Eric swam for the U.S. National Team and now coaches collegiate swimming.

Each swim workout has an A and B option. The B option takes less time and covers less yardage in the pool. If you need to focus more on drills and swimming efficiency, because you don’t know how to swim that well, you might consider Nick’s book Swim Workouts for Triathletes in a Binder. It will be extremely similar to the book above except it will be more drill focused which helps new swimmers learn how to swim more efficiently.

2. Cycling Workouts in a Binder

This book has 4 different plans, two of which are specific to triathletes. Each workout has a 15- to 30-minute warm up, a main set of variable length, and a 5-minute cool down. Terminology used in each of the workouts is readily explained in the introduction.

16 Week Triathlon Base Period Plan Includes

  • 4 months of base building with about 3 bike workouts a week
  • Focus: endurance, efficiency, muscular endurance & strength

12 Week Sprint/Olympic Triathlon Plan Includes

  • 3 months of periodized training to prepare you for your race
  • Focus: building a base, efficiency, muscular endurance & strength while fine tuning sprinting capability and getting ready to race

Dirk Friel and Wes Hobson are your “coaches.” They walk you through each workout and guide you through the process of testing and racing. Dirk is a USA Cycling coach and pro cyclist and Wes was a professional triathlete.

3. Running Workouts in a Binder

Run Workouts in a Binder has over 20 workout plans, several of which focus on preparing you to run your triathlon. The plans are geared toward specific events and abilities. All workouts gradually progress the triathlete to race shape.

Olympic Distance Triathlon Plan Level 1, 2, 3 Includes

  • 2.5 to 3.5 months of workouts and approximately 4 runs per week
  • Focus: aerobic endurance, speed

Half Ironman Plan Level 1, 2, 3 Includes

  • 2.5 to 3 months of workouts and approximately 5 runs per week
  • Focus: aerobic endurance, speed, leg turn over

Ironman Plan Level 1, 2, 3 Includes

  • 4 to 5.5 months of workouts and approximately 4 runs per week
  • Includes some walking

Like Cycling Workouts in a Binder, this book has an easy to read glossary which explains all the workout terminology and walks you through the process of becoming a better runner. Your “coaches” are the two authors, Bobby McGee and Mark Plaatjes. Bobby coaches world record holder triathletes and Olympians. Mark is a gold medal Track & Field athlete who coaches elite recreational runners.

Do You Really Need a Coach?

The answer to this question can be acquired logically by asking these questions and determining where there’s overlap between a coach and training books with workout and training plans.

What can a coach do for you?

Well, they can create workouts and plan your training over a series of months. They can offer encouragement and expertise. And, they’re a physical person to whom you can hold yourself accountable.

What do coaches charge?

Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $125 per month to over $500 per month.

What can these books do for you?

Like a coach, these books come with workouts and plans specific to your event. They explain all of the training terminology you need to know just like a coach would. They walk you through the process of periodic testing in each sport so you can track your progress.

What do these 3 books cost?

They cost about $64 in total from Amazon.

Logical conclusion?

I think you know it already. You can meet all of your training needs for a fraction of the price of personal coaching with these books. Additionally, these books have workouts for swimmers, bikers and runners who are not triathletes.

If you’re still on the fence, consider why. Perhaps you’re worried you won’t be accountable to your workouts if you go it alone? Maybe, the thought of not being able to ask questions scares you? These are common causes of anxiety that leave people wondering if a coach is a better option for them. But, please, before you shell out some serious dough, consider how simple the solutions are to these concerns.

Cheaper Accountability Solutions

  • Share your goals & report your progress to a friend or relative
  • Join a triathlon community and share your objectives, then show up once a week to train
  • Find a cheaper coach who only specializes in simply holding people accountable to the goals they set (may be useful for other aspects of your life as well)

Cheaper Instant Feedback Solutions

  • Internet forums for triathletes
  • Email any of the authors of these books (they’ve gotten back to me when I used them)
  • Join a local club or team up with a veteran triathlon

Race Season Requires Planning

While it may seem like these books were written by the same author because they provide similarly structured comprehensive plans and workouts to prepare triathletes, they weren’t. Instead, each book was created by an expert in their respective sport. So, buying these books together gives you three “coaches.” Each having years of experience in their portion of the triathlon. At the end of the day you have to do the work. So, it’s really not worth spending the money on a coach unless you’re a professional triathlete or an elite level recreational athlete who could potentially get paid to compete and who could thus benefit from fine tuning and adjustments made mid-training by a coach.

Image Sources:

All 3 images were sourced from Amazon

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