How To Choose A Triathlon or Running Coach


What should you look for when hiring a triathlon or running coach?  What questions should you ask?

Don’t just go with the first recommendation.  Make sure you interview a few coaches before making your selection.

Here’s are some questions you may want to ask the potential coach and yourself:

  • What is your experience? How long have you been coaching?  Do you coach other activities?
  • Do you have experience training all skill levels?  (Some coaches are focused on training Ironman as opposed to a beginner.)
  • Send an email or text message to the coach and see how fast he/she responds. (I understand everyone is busy, but a quick text saying I’m in the middle of something, and will get back to you later, goes a long way!)
  • What is your philosophy?   (Some coaches are geared toward helping you increase your speed and endurance while others want you to experience the journey.)
  • Do you believe in coaching with power meters? (If you have one and the coach doesn’t train using power meters, you may have just wasted $1000 plus dollars!)
  • Will you meet with me on a periodic basis?  If so, will you charge me for individual sessions? (Seems like some coaches charge and others don’t.)
  • Is a virtual coach a bad thing? (It may be the way to go if you train like a “lone wolf.” Most coaches will tell you it’s not good to hire a virtual coach, however, I’ve had good experiences in the past with hiring a virtual coach for running.)
  • How many people do you coach? Is your schedule overloaded? How do you juggle?
  • If the coach offers group activities, do you think you will participate? If you can’t participate, are you missing out? (My schedule is so hectic, there is no way I can participate in group activities especially at 6 am when I have to get my son off to school.)
  • Do you offer opportunities to meet with teammates? (This may be important to you.)
  • How will I receive workouts – via TrainingPeaks? via email? via text message?
  • What method of communications works best for you and the coach? (Telephone? Email? Text Messages? Facebook messages?)
  • Are you flexible?  What if I get sick or need to go away, how will the training be handled?
  • How will you motivate me?
  • During the interview, does the coach talk more about him/herself than about you and your goals? (This will tell you a lot about the person.)

Finally, ask around and get feedback from other athletes. Reputation is key. You want someone who is reputable, who is there to guide you and who can motivate you both physically and emotionally.

Once you decide on your selection and you don’t think it’s working out after a month or so, don’t continue to work with the person.  Like in business, “hire slow, fire fast.” You’ll be happier in the long run!