Coaches Who Need Coaches

TrainingPeaks Success Story: When A Coach Needs a Coach

BY Rob Lee

Even knowing the importance of structure, these two coaches know how difficult it can be to make objective decisions about their own training and racing—not least because such decisions are often emotional as well as physical. Here's why these coaches hire coaches, and how they help each other succeed as athletes.

Rob Lee and Holly Seear are both TrainingPeaks Level 2-accredited Coaches, as well as athletes. Rob is Holly’s coach and recently helped her train for the Bike Transalp in 2017, a multi-day mountain bike stage race, covering more than 500kms and 18,000 meters (59,000 feet) of elevation gain.

In their own words, Rob and Holly explain why, even as coaches, they felt the need to hire a coach to reach their own performance goals, and how working together helped Holly reach a new level of performance.

Rob Lee:

If I tell anyone who knows I’m a coach that I have a coach myself, it’s often met with surprise. But the fact is that being a coach, and believing in the coaching process, means that I am especially eager for guidance with my own performance goals. The benefits are many, but for me the biggest ones are accountability, emotional removal and the opportunity to learn.

The athletes I coach are very successful, I’m accomplished at writing training plans for many, and I’m confident when making key decisions based on the needs of the athlete. However, when it comes to my own training I find there’s a tug-of-war between what I know I need to do, and what I’d rather do instead. Knowing that someone will be checking my files ensures that I do what is required (which I define as “training”) instead of what I’d really like to do instead (which I define as “riding.”)

Working with another in your own profession also provides the opportunity to see another perspective or approach to the job. This added input can enhance, or at the very least clarify, my working practices.

For many of the same reasons that I might hire a coach, I am also always willing to coach other coaches towards their own performance goals. One such coach/athlete is Holly Seear, an accomplished rider and owner of Spring Cycle Coaching. We have worked together for over a year, and Holly’s experiences reflect many of my own.

Holly Seear:

Working with a coach represents a commitment to your training (both in terms of money and time), and it could just be the smartest step you can take towards achieving your goals.

Despite being a successful coach myself with some outstanding athletes performing at the top level, I know I am useless at coaching myself. For example, I fully knew that I hadn’t done enough specific training for Transalp in previous years, and my results suffered accordingly. Transalp is a challenging 7-day MTB stage race across the Alps and Dolomites, with 600km of off-road terrain and over 20,000m of ascent. One needs good quality training to even finish, and for 2017 I resolved to get it.

Luckily, while I was in Manchester at The National Cycling Centre (attending TrainingPeaks University and gaining my Level 2 Training Peaks Certification), I had the good fortune to bump into Rob Lee. We hadn’t seen each other for over 20 years, but it was immediately clear his coaching ethos is similar to my own. I knew his performance-based, data-driven coaching was just what I needed. (You can find your own coach through the TrainingPeaks Coach Match Service, which includes hundreds of coaches with different specialties from around the world.)

My embarrassment at my poor quality of training meant it took me a few days to ask for Rob’s help. But after encouraging me to think more clearly about my 2017 goals and drill into exactly what I wanted to achieve, he took me on as a client. It was such a relief to hand over responsibility for the planning and structure of my training. It’s also great motivation to know he is supporting me, challenging me and of course checking up on me!

Even as someone who knows the importance of structure, it can be really difficult to make objective decisions about your own training and racing—not least because such decisions are often emotional as well as physical. A good coach will help you focus on your priorities and give you honest feedback on your choices. We all enjoy working on our strengths; a coach will ask you to work on your weaknesses.

With Rob’s support I finished 25 places higher up the rankings than my first attempt at Transalp. He is now working with me toward my next long-distance challenge.

About Holly Seear:

Holly Seear is a passionate coach keen to inspire, motivate and support others in achieving their goals. She is a Level 3 British Cycling Coach, Personal Trainer, Mountain Bike Leader, National Standards Bikeability Instructor, Leader in Running Fitness, and Nordic Walking Instructor. Head Coach for her local cycling club, she enjoys working with riders of all abilities from new cyclists to international racers. Holly is a TrainingPeaks Level 2 Coach and runs her own coaching business – Spring Cycle Coaching – full time.

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About Rob Lee

Rob Lee is a TrainingPeaks Level 2 coach with more than 20 years of coaching and mentoring experience. Based in the UK, he supports athletes worldwide across most cycling disciplines. He is a former elite athlete in two areas of mountain biking, multiple record breaker, and an inductee to the UK MTB Hall of Fame. Rob runs his own coaching and performance business: RL Performance, and Aero-Fit sessions for World-leader in cycling aerodynamics Drag2Zero. His training plans for self-supported racing can be found on his TrainingPeaks page.