While I have never worked with a triathlon coach, I am not against them. Not at all. I think the right coach at the right time for the right person is a great thing.
In Mastery, the author George Leonard discusses the path to mastering a skill, and the importance that another individual can play in helping you improve in a skill. He emphasizes taking care to choose someone to work with – such as a coach – to make sure they are a good teacher, and that you will work well with them. Once you choose someone, then he says to surrender to that person’s teaching. In other words, be picky, and then do what they tell you.
I love the idea of this and there are areas in my life that I would like to work with a coach or a teacher. Triathlon isn’t one of them right now. Maybe someday in my own life, but now I just enjoy experimentation and play within the sport.
If you are interested in working with a coach, I would suggest making sure you find a good fit. It is relatively easy to become a coach. And excellent athletes will not always make the best teachers. In fact, I believe that someone could become an excellent teacher even if they are not excellent in the field they teach – in some areas. What’s more, I don’t hear this talked about a lot, but I would think there is merit in triathlon to working with someone who is an expert in a particular discipline, such as a swim coach, attending a running camp, or focusing only on cycling. Certainly triathlon as a whole has its own challenges, but perhaps you are more concerned about just one area, or can find someone you would work great with in just one area.
I also think it is important to figure out why you want a coach before finding one. Do you need the accountability? Or is there a particular skill you want to learn? There is no right answer here, but I think it will help you choose who to work with and may even save you money. If you want accountability, group coaching may be the best bet; or if it is a minor skill you want to master, perhaps a running camp for a week is the best bet.