The Big Eleven: Foundational Principles for Endurance and Triathlon Coaching

What is the foundation for the kind of coach-athlete relationship that yields amazing results? There is a lot to it, but it has to start with trust and commitment.

As with everything at TriGuy Multisport Coaching, we hate just talking. We like to take practical action and make our ideas about trust and commitment very specific and concrete. Trust starts by being completely open about who you are. And we believe in establishing the fundamental commitments of the coach-athlete relationship right from the beginning.

In that spirit, here are 11 Key Principles we live by, and 3 things we need from our athletes.

Our Big Eleven Foundational Principles – WHAT WE BELIEVE

1. Great Accomplishments come from Education AND Experience. Experience can teach a coach like nothing else. It is hard to train others to do what you haven’t done yourself. BUT, a good coach also has a solid grounding in exercise physiology and the functions of workload. Additionally, excellent coaches have done in-depth study of exercise physiology, kinesiology, anatomy, nutrition, and sports psychology.

2. No Success without Access. This one is really simple. A committed coach is an accessible coach. Athletes who have made a promise to themselves and their coach to attain breakthrough performance as an endurance athlete deserve full support and access.

3. Don’t Get So Advanced You Forget the Fundamentals. We love advancements, experiments, and the latest technological aids. But we still believe deeply in fundamental key indicators. Cross-referencing speed, heart rate, watts, and perceived exertion will reveal insights that can raise your performance.

4. Plan Comprehensively, but Don’t Be Afraid to Adapt. TriGuy Coaching believes in mapping out an entire training year. This is important because it allows periodization, micro-cycles, rest, and other important concepts to be fully integrated into an athlete’s training. Still, no training document should be seen as a rigid and unchangeable. Lifestyle needs and training adaptations should be taken into account.

5. If it’s Not Repeatable and Measurable, It’s a Waste of Training Time. Workouts need to be repeatable and measurable. This is all about paying attention to the details of training and being able to recognize the signs of over-training or mental burnout. Not only does each training cycle need a clear purpose, but it must also effectively prepare for each subsequent phase. Concepts like recovery during each micro-cycle are critical.

6. Biomechanics Matter. Outstanding coaches have a firm grasp of the biomechanics of swimming, cycling and running. They also can translate this understanding to prescribe drills and exercises that can correct biomechanical flaws in their athletes – and all athletes have technical flaws. A good coach spots them and provides a corrective/preventive strategy in the form of a comprehensive strength-training program that prescribes exercises specific to your individual strengths and weaknesses.

7. Endurance Nutrition and Supplementation Requires Specialized Knowledge. Anyone giving endurance athletes nutritional advice needs to understand the underlying principles and then be able to prescribe a specific plan for the individual athlete. A thorough knowledge of supplements and what to take to meet workloads is also needed. Finally, a good coach should design caloric intake and fueling plans in three phases: pre-race, race and post-race nutrition.

8. Race Day Counts. For endurance athletes, race day is special. It is how we measure ourselves. Meeting a goal in a competitive environment is a special rush. A good coach understands this and can give specific advice and guidance for an athlete’s individual race-day tactics.

9. If you can’t Communicate It, All the Knowledge in the World Won’t Matter. Coaches need to know how to communicate to all different personalities. Without a comprehensive understanding of effective communication and motivation techniques, the key knowledge can’t be transferred and made effective.

10. A Coach’s Own Motivation Can’t Be Faked. TriGuy Coaching believes that you have to walk the walk if you want to remain credible and inspiring to athletes. Especially for endurance and triathletes – they can spot authenticity versus fakery very quickly. Simply put, any coach who wants to inspire athletes to new heights of performance needs to keep their own motivations at peak levels.

11. Focused Commitment to the Athlete Always Shines Through. Here is another thing that can’t be faked. Every athlete needs to know that a coach has a focused commitment to them. The athlete’s own commitment deserves and demands an equal focus and commitment from the coach.


Commitment is a Two-Way Street


Our list of 11 Principles is What You Should Expect from a Coach. But a commitment from us will show DISMAL results unless the Athlete is fully behind the process.

We ask for three rock-solid commitments from all our athletes:

1. You MUST be Fully Committed to the Plan. A coach is there to support you in any way they can. The one thing they can never do is run the race for you or train for you. You are in control of how hard you train. Owning your training is about you and your body and your MINDSET. A good coach will help you develop the right mindset, but there aren’t shortcuts for endurance athletes.

2. No Communication Equals No Success. If you don’t collect and submit the data a coach needs, we can’t help you properly. Every athlete needs to communicate the information to the coach completely and consistently. To understand your training needs, it is critical that you communicate with your coach weekly. Power files are discussed weekly along with information about the previous week’s training or race results. It is also crucial that you report any injuries or concerns immediately. And it is vital that your overall schedule be communicated. (For example: “For the next month I need these days off” – “I am away for work here” – “There is a group ride I would like to do on this day”).

3. Plan. Prepare. Conquer. A big part of commitment is taking the time to plan ahead. You may have to get up early for a particular workout, pack clothes for another, eat pasta for breakfast, or request a workout change if the weather looks bad. In other words, it is not enough to commit to the workouts themselves, you need to spend time planning for how you will keep these commitments. All this leads to better quality training and better performance on race day. Also prepare: don’t let things just happen to you – make them happen! Stretch, eat and hydrate before those tough workouts, set aside some time to get your mind pumped up. Whatever it takes to get it done. If you plan and prepare, you will conquer!