Predictable success comes from planning and execution. Two pieces that are absolutely necessary, yet often ignored. If you want to be a good bike racer, it’s not enough to ride a few times a week. It’s not even enough to ride 7 days a week and be talented genetically. You must plan carefully what your training will be, food, sleeping, gear selection, everything. Then on race day, you can’t make mistakes; if you eat too much, you lose; if you pace slightly too hard, you’re out of the top 10; if you pick a race that doesn’t suit your strengths, hundreds of hours of preparation will conclude with a mid-pack finish. Every single detail must be planned, reviewed, memorized, so that execution is second nature, like breathing. But you have to have a plan.
Where does a plan come from? That’s where most athletes go wrong. Whether you are off the couch doing your first 5k or an elite bike racer, the plan is constantly underestimated. People trust themselves far too much, and give their minds and decision making abilities too much credit. If you are reading this, you lack experience, and thus, you need help with your plan. Sure you might be able to go out and crush yourself day in and day out with hard workouts to get into top form. Yes, you might pick good races, gear, nutrition and develop excellent strategies on your own. You may even win races without outside input. But I guarantee that you will be leaving something on the table. And this is exactly where coaches come into the picture.
“You have a coach?!” I can hear the octaves in your voice rising. Yes, of course I do. Children have coaches for meaningless games that teach them loosely about teamwork, but you wouldn’t expect an adult pursuing elite athletic fitness while balancing family, multiple jobs and regular life to? Again, if you don’t want to leave anything on the table, this is how you plan.
Coaches are a fantastic resource. I’ve had a few and have known more, and they all have their strengths. Someone like Chris Beck is an absolute guru on racing tactics and mountain bike handling skills. He could sit on a couch for five years and still beat 98% of all racers because he has a killer competitive instinct and surgical technique while riding his bike. Others like Chris Newell have an appreciation for the training loads of multi-sport, and can help athletes carefully balance the fatigue of training for three sports simultaneously. And the list goes on.
This year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Cameron Cogburn. When it comes to training, there is no shortage of theories that you can read about online, in books or hear about on group rides. Much of it though is misleading, partially true, or just plain wrong, and Cogburn knows the difference. Better yet, he’s tried it, noted the results and has the conclusions of all the positives and negatives of any approach out there.
Cogburn has been planning my workouts all year, and helping get my form set for the specific races I was scheduled to do. This year I have done every kind of workout you can imagine, had more rest days than most would think, and have never been bored. I was always fresh for my races, ready for the type of effort I was exerting, and peaked for the important events. My form was continually improving even, and I never got burned out; physically or mentally. Cogburn took me to the next level this year and I saw massive gains on all fronts from my FTP to my all day mtb endurance. One of the greatest things though has been the reasons behind the work. Every question I've had of "why" he has had specific answers for. No scheduled workout has been random. He always has a plan and purpose for every workout he prescribed.
So if you're looking for a coach, Definitely check him out.