I was recently asked ‘if I employ you as my coach, what do I actually get for my money?’ And further, ‘Can you explain to me what it’s like for a rider to have a coach, do you just shout at me at races or what?’
A fair question and quite possibly one others may want some answers to.
A cycling coach does many things but, at its core, the service I provide tells you how hard, how long and how often you need to train to reach your goals. After understanding your goals and the time you have available for training, I will prescribe you sessions via a software package adopted by British Cycling and Team Sky (amongst others) called Training Peaks.
It's a web based calendar system that looks like this when you open it up
The basic information is immediately there (duration and intensity) but I usually attach a Word file with each session to give more specifics and an explanation if the session is a complicated one. The Word file is downloadable by clicking the little paper clip in the corner if you want to print it off for as an aide memoire for an indoor turbo or roller session.
Click on the entry for a day and you’ll get the detail for that session as shown below. It appears grey here because it is yet to be completed
Once you have completed the session, you upload the data from your Garmin or cycling computer. The session in the example below has gone green because it has been completed in line with parameters set. You will see in the first picture; one session is also amber (close but no cigar) or red (missed session or a long way out of the parameters set)
You can also put some post activity comments in to support the data. Feedback is vital to modifying and tailoring your training program to make it work for you.
Now I get to look at your telemetry in detail! Power, heart rate, cadence, speed, distance, TSS (more on that another time) and get to apply some analytics to your data to see how your training is progressing and what adjustments need to be made. Training Peaks is really powerful software and a variety of reporting 'dashboards' can be generated. A plain vanilla one is shown below.
So there you go, a very brief synopsis of what is at the core of the physiological side of cycling coaching. Clearly I've not touched on anything technical, tactical or psychological here, just the bear bones of how fast, how long and how often.
I hope this helps answer a few questions: it might, of course, lead to many more!