So, you are getting into triathlons? Now you may be asking yourself how should I train? Should I self-coach? Should I get a pre-written plan or invest in a 1:1 coach? There are many options to choose from and I felt as if I could give you all my thoughts on this subject. Many people have written on this subject and I think I fall in line with most people. Rather than write out a long essay on each type I will give a more basic Pros vs. Cons and why I chose to stick with a coach rather than the other two options.

Self Coaching


  • There is no accountability

  • You can easily push yourself too hard if you are not honest with yourself

  • May not be pushing yourself hard enough

  • You must have a great knowledge base on training

  • Must understand three sports and how they interact with each other

  • Constantly questioning if you are doing the right training


  • Cheapest option

  • Able to adjust the program for yourself day to day.






For someone new to triathlons, I think self-coaching is the last option that someone should pick if they want to have a good time in the sport. Maybe after many years of having a coach and following plans you can take this option on. It requires a true understanding of the sport that even most professional triathletes do not take on because writing your own training plan is extremely difficult and time consuming. I much prefer just being able to work out and not worry about what I need to do each day.


Pre-Written Plan


  • What happens if you miss a workout?

    • What do you do with that day?

  • Doesn’t account for your specific body and how you develop day after day.

  • Doesn’t account for your weaknesses.

  • How does a 20 week plan know how your fitness will be so far in the future?

  • Who wrote the plan and what gives them the right to do so?

  • How willing are you as an athlete willing to adjust an already written plan?


  • Second cheapest option, some are even free.

  • Doesn’t require yourself to make up workouts.

  • Gives you a sense of structure for what to do.

  • You know what you need to do each day.




The first thing a new triathlete should do is get pre-written training plan. When I signed up for my first Olympic triathlon I found a free 16-week training plan and tried to follow that one to the best of my ability. There was not very much detail in the plan beyond how long to go in each discipline each day, but it was something, and something is all I needed to get started. There are a lot of different places to buy plans and I would do some research before investing into one because each one is a bit different and a lot depends on the time you are able to train.

I think the hardest part about getting one of these plans is what do you do when life happens? You miss a workout because trust me, you will and now what happens? Do you just pile that missed workout onto the next day to make sure you get all the sessions in for the week? Or just let the workout go and not worry about it? I think a good pre-written plan should outline the key workouts of the week, these are the ones you shouldn’t miss! If you do need to miss a workout for some reason just make sure to get in the key sessions for the week and you can feel good about what you did that week. Everything else is just a bonus.


One-on-One Coaching


  • Most expensive (but totally worth it if you get a good one).

  • Can take time to find the right coach to work with your style.












  • Don’t usually plan out more than 2 days in advance.

  • Each day depends on the last.

    • you develop each day, so training needs to account for this.

  • Calls once per week and discuss training and everything else.

  • Unlimited email contact.

  • Help with training, nutrition, life problems, and just help make triathlon part of your life rather than something you do on the side.

  • Willing to listen to ideas and doesn’t think his/her way is the only way

  • Adjusts based on goals.

  • Works with the time you have.

  • Accountability.

  • The longer you work with them the better you get as a team.

  • You continue to build on what you have already done.

Now when it comes to 1:1 coaching the differences in this category is pretty astounding and you get what you pay for. You can get a very cheap coach that will write out multiple weeks at a time and that’s about it, there is very limited interaction beyond the written plans which in my opinion is not much better than a pre-written plan and a pre-written plan would save you money. If you are going to get a coach I think you got to be all in and want to do the best you can, there is nothing much better than good 1:1 coaching.

I started working with my coach Lucho in the May of 2016 after having listened to him as a guest host on Endurance Planet for a couple years. I knew his style of coaching and knew he was going to be the right fit for me. I have only worked with one triathlon coach and so my opinion is solely based on this one experience. But he is a great example of what I think a good coach is. We have weekly phone calls to discuss training and life in general (a good coach will eventually know as much about you as your loved ones). A good coach will not write more than two days of workouts at a time because every day builds on one another. Of course, a basic weekly outline is built but what happens each day will vary drastically on how you did the day before. There is also unlimited email contact, this doesn’t mean your coach needs to get back to you right away, but an athlete needs to know they are able to contact their coach and they will hear back from them if it is important. A good coach will also always be willing to learn, everything you know today can change tomorrow so you and your coach must be ready to evolve.

These are just my thoughts on how to build a training plan and I would love to hear what you all think. Or if you want to discuss training please feel free to reach out to discuss or ask questions.