Tri coach, tri club or self coaching

What’s the general consensus on here for coaching and training plans for Ironman distance?

I was down for IMWales 2020 so now have an extra 12 months and want to make sure I use it wisely to give myself the best performance on the day.

I am not a newbie, have done IM Wales 2014 and 2015 and IM UK 2017 as well as many sprint, Olympic and middle distance races and have represented GB at AG Olympic Distance. Aspirations are top 10 AG (40-44) going to need to shave an hour off previous times for this.

In the past I have mainly been self coached but with so much training ahead of me with no racing it has become very obvious that I have just used regular racing as my training plan. Clearly I need a new strategy now!

I used a coach for IM UK and was pretty underwhelmed with the difference it made. If anything I did not enjoy the experience of being told what to do and then did not see a dramatic difference from my self coached efforts.

I started digging around for a training plan and have just started a TrainerRoad programme but at the back of my mind I am still thinking I should give a coach another go.

Just wondered what everybody on here does. Coached, Online Plans, Tri Club or just for fun?

Any suggestions for good online plans or coaches?

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that could be part of the problem…although I won’t be completely dogmatic about it (i have ‘coached’ some athletes that just want to be told what to do), and will fall into a few cliches, the journey is about developing a coach:athlete relationship where by the prescribed training and rationale is discussed, understood, agreed and, up to a point, welcomed…


Coaching is not about telling you what to do, but guiding you to make good decisions. Its a relationship that takes time to build. I think this is the main difference by a L3 experienced coach, and the athlete first coach funding their own hobby. Too many people fall into the trap of looking at an athletic resume to select a coach and get given a plan based on what tgat “coach” does themselves

I cant answer the other question , it depends and is not always either or. The athletes I coach I usually say join a club as well for the social element as much as the training.

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Thanks for the replies, so maybe I need to be more selective with the coach.

What’s the best way of finding the right coach?

Zuzu it looks as though you have a pretty good idea about long distance Tri and probably a fairly good idea about what works for you. You also know how much time it takes and must have made a few mistakes along the way.
An hour is a lot of time to gain so work out how you think you can get that, write a plan for the next few weeks which starts that process. Do some research and if you like the sound of a coach send it to them and see if you could work together.
You may not need a coach to tell you what to do but you might need someone to ask some questions about your plan, someone to keep you honest in the training and give a little motivation every now and then. As EJC and Hammerer have said it’s got to be a relationship not a one way street.
I am not a coach, nor have I ever used one but that’s probably why I don’t feel I ever really reached my potential in this sport.


2 answered above :wink: recommendations can work but whats right for one person may not work for another. British tri coach finder has bios for L3 coaches so search your area read a few, “interview” some you like the sound of. Whilst being L3 doesn’t guarantee a good fit or even a good coach in some cases at least you’ll know they care enough about coaching theyve invested heavily in time and money to get qualified.
I would personally rule anyone out that has a website full of their athletic credentials. “I race for GB, I’ve been to Kona” as I’d always be concerned that they are an athlete first. I would also see how much “poolside” coaching they do at a club as this is where you develop and you get a feel for how much coaching means if they spend time volunteering at club sessions. You know they are likely to invest time in you. Finally I’m not a fan of restricted contact or tiered coaching. It implies you are not as important as someone else and if you get 1 email a week contact, what happens if you have an issue on a Wednesday afternoon and desperate for some advice. Coaching is all about 2 way communication and I dont see how a plan can be truly bespoke and not limiting if you cant get feedback other than a once a month call. This doesn’t mean they need to drop everything to answer a call immediately but to at least reply within reason. Thats me, others are different and may just want to be given a plan for tge month and catch up after.


Hi there, I dont know that there is a consensus but if you are going with a coach Id agree with the advice posted by the guys above - particularly about meeting a few, at least three if you can, before picking one.

Im a big TrainerRoad user and I know guys who have KQd on their plans, I also know a lot who havent :wink:

In your place (having been coached, having some pretty good results and wanting to make a fairly sizeable step up) Id sit down and do the old strengths/weaknesses grid. Then looking at that analysis, decide whether I felt a coach or a self-coached way forward is best for you.

Whatever you decide, good luck! :+1:


thought I’d pop this thread back up to get some input from the likes of @Hammerer and @explorerJC on this coaching setup

it seems that Tom Bishop has given up on racing and has set up a coaching company with his twin brother, David, and Josh Daniels. you can’t deny their racing pedigree on the ITU circuits but from what I can see, none of them have any accredited coaching qualifications and are looking to extract a minimum of £199 pm from anyone signing up.

as @Hammerer says in a post just up the page:


They will certainly make some cash from the instagram, “I’m coached by X” crowd who look at athletic background like because you raced pro you have some secret insight into getting fast quick. As ever it depends, I believe their mum is a L3 coach and mentor to the HPCP also , although she played on the “I coach elite athletes” mantra in her resume when she actually coached her boys which put me off her.

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Thanks for the resurrection! I did have a look at their site when I saw Tom Bishop tweet his coaching service, I was shocked at the price but I guess it’a still a fraction of the LCB coaching.

In the end I decided to revert to Zwift and then Trainer Road plans and now settled on some sensible 80:20 self coaching waiting, like everyone else, to see if there are any races to peak for!


i can’t be specific and so i am gong to have to generalise…the sport now has a duty to provide elite athletes with a pathway out of racing for those who don’t make it and those who do and then retire. They are then fast tracked through the coaching programme. There may be benefits to this, but much of my exposure to this is that their racing experience is meant to overcome the lack of coaching experience.

This divide is highlighted by one of the recent podcasts about coaching philosophy by the ‘elite’ coaches which was 40+ mins in before they got onto the topic. This lack of understanding is not surprising, and that they have a coach education team in the same office that they could have asked highlights one of the shortcomings.

Back on topic…I am watching an ex elite coach working overseas at present…i don’t have enough info to make a judgement, but i did watch an athlete being urged to run a 50 min10k PB in the middle of the camp. This may have been part of the plan, of course, but i wonder how she will recover and make use of he best of the camp…


I noticed the Brownlees have brought Non Stanford on board to their little project as well. Though she does have an exercise and physiology degree/background and did her badges a while back i think. No idea how good she is etc.

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Self coached here. I know that’s probably sub optimal and I do stupid things without a coach to stop me, but this is a hobby.

Part of that is learning about the sport, learning about me as an athlete and trying to get better.

All the errors and failures are 100% mine, but so are the small (but vastly more satisfying) triumphs.

I don’t have to put food on the table. A sub optimal year which I’ve enjoyed, done some silly but fun things is better to me than blindly following a plan to achieve more in one target race at the cost of all the other enjoyments I get.


Looks like that have mis-named their company, leaving off the initial 1.


that seems to be the USP that the Bishop team is using - the been there, done that, we can help others approach. however, because you’ve once been an elite athlete doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a great (or even good) coach - different mindsets needed.

will be interesting to see how it goes for them

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I am sure that it will go well…however this always squeezes on the middle with most of the ‘better’ coaches stuck between the expensive famous and the cheap PTs…

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I think you could even go further than that, does being an elite make it less likely you’ll be a good/great coach?
To be an elite you must have a high degree of natural talent/genetics (not ignoring the hard work that goes into it too) which the majority of people you’ll coach will almost certainly be lacking, to the same degree. Their ability to relate and understand that may be less than someone from a similar background.

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So does Alistair, Physiology and Sports Sciences, which was straight physiology with a focus on exercise physiology, especially with elective modules, biomechanics and sports psychology.

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nothing wrong with that…

nor that…

As do i, but it didn’t teach me much about coaching - although mine did have practical elements in at level 6…of which i am very proud…