Finding the right Coach for you

Searching for a new Coach can be a daunting experience; whether you are new to the sport of triathlon, or a seasoned triathlete. Many triathletes look for a Coach for structure and accountability that will ultimately lead them to performance gains, others are simply looking for guidance and support, to learn more about their chosen sport. No matter your reason, a Coach is an investment, so the decision on a Coach should be well thought out to ensure you find the right Coach for YOU, to ensure your performance, health and ultimately enjoyment of the support all go hand in hand.

The Coach’s Role
The role of a Coach can be varied based on what it is you are looking for and trying to achieve, along with your training history/past experience. When an athlete first starts out in triathlon, the Coachs role may be more focused on guiding, educating and supporting the athlete through the learning and developing phase to help develop the basic training fundamentals, principles and methods for training and developing a strong, robust and healthy body to undertake training load. As an athlete develops, the Coaches role would shift to ensure the athlete is continuing to practice and develop certain skills/technique, along with improving their knowledge, awareness and understanding of the program itself and the key fundamentals. It is important that a Coach continues to educate athletes through this phase to avoid over reaching/over training and burn out. As an athlete then continues to progress, a solid understanding of exercise physiology, the functions of workload, training fundamentals, principles and methods must be applied. And this is where a Coach should have up-to-date education and/or research in the areas of physiology, anatomy, nutrition and even sports psychology. This coupled with real life experience, lays the foundations for a quality Coach and a Coach that can develop an athlete from the ground up to reaching their optimal performance.

Finding the right Coach for you

Now that you have a better understanding of the role of a Coach, its time to establish what you are looking for in a Coach. This is where most athletes don’t know where to begin, I have listed 10 questions you can ask yourself before you go in the search of a new Coach. This will ensure you are clear on what you are looking for.

1. Why do you want a Coach?

Sounds like a simple question, but many don’t actually know WHY. So start by making a list on why you feel you want a Coach. This may change once you go through this process, and may also change as you continue your journey in the sport, but make a start and then come back and revisit i tat the end. Ask yourself the following questions: -Are you someone who needs the support of someone for motivation and goal setting? -Are you someone who needs structure, routine and a periodised program to follow?-Are you someone who is returning from injury or wants to avoid minimise the risk of injury?-Do you want to learn more about the sport from experts in their field? -Do you want to develop technique and skills specific to the sport? -Do you want to maximise your time spent training through purposeful and specific sessions/program? -Do you want help to decipher all the noise that is in the triathlon world? Remember it is an investment and you will be trusting your training to someone else, so its a decision you want to get right.

2. What is your budget?

A Coach is an investment, start your search with a budget in mind. However we often find athletes underestimate the value and cost in coaching, so as you proceed through your search, you may find that you will modify your original budget OR your expectations on the level of coaching service you can afford.The cost a Coach will generally depend on a combination of the coaches history/experience/successes and the type of service they offer. A highly successful proven coach, providing an individualised specific program will often charge more that of a new coach offering the same service, or a highly regarded coach providing less of a coaching service. So this is where it is important to determine what you are looking for in a coach and how that fits in with your budget.

3. What experience does the Coach have?

Do some research on the experience of the Coach. How many years have they been involved in the sport? How many years have they been coaching? What type of athletes do they coach? What coaching successes have they
achieved? What is their expertise? A Coach that has vast and proven experience at successfully coaching athletes has a bigger knowledge base to draw upon than someone who has only coached a small handful of people, so take this into consideration. Also remember – just because someone achieves a high level of personal success in the sport, doesn’t mean they automatically make a great coach or could be the right fit for you.

4. What is their Coaching Philosophy?

Research what their Coaching Philosophy is, and understand whether this philosophy sits well with you. Be open and honest, and ask questions. There is no single coaching formula that works for everybody, but you do need to have buy into the coaching philosophy of your Coach.This may also require additional research if you don’t know what different coaching philosophies look like. And if you ask the question, and they cannot answer, then I would rethink whether that Coach is the right coach for you.

5. What Coaching principles/methods do they coach by?

Again, there is no one right way to program and there is certainly more than one way to achieve the same result, but understanding what the Coaching principles, methods and program foundations of your Coach are will allow you to understand how your program will work and gauge whether it will be the right method for you. But ensure the program / coaching has your needs met and work around your life, including a balanced approach to achieving your goals and to ensure your longevity in the sport.

6. The Coaching Relationship A Coach/athlete relationship is extremely important

You want to be able to gel with your Coach so you can put your trust in them, and they can gain the most from you. Think about the relationship you want to have with your Coach and determine what is important to you on their style and qualities. Do you want a Coach that provides tough love/is a hard task master? Someone approachable and open? Do you want constant support? What communication style works for you? What kind of personality do you work well with?Make a list on what is important to you and make sure your Coach ticks these boxes.

7. How much contact do you want with your coach?

This is a big one, as different coaches offer different contact levels. This could be either face to face / group sessions, communication through email/phone/skype. It could be daily, weekly, monthly. The feedback you receive from a coach is just as important as the feedback you provide to your coach. So understand what amount of communication/contact you want with your coach as this will dictate the type of coaching/program you ultimately choose.

8. Do you want to be part of a Club/Squad/ Group Training?

Group sessions are a great way for athletes to receive instruction from coaches, meet new people, learn the fundamentals of triathlon training and push themselves in a group environment. Often athletes will follow the same or similar training program at sessions, with a coach guiding them through the session. Coaches may offer technique advice, modify the plan to meet the athletes individual needs, or at times it is up to the athlete to understand what is right for them and make their own modifications. If you are looking at group training, ensure you ask questions around coach/athlete ratios, what coaching is provided at the sessions, times and locations, what feedback is given and any additional costs involved to ensure you know what to expect. This often is a great way for athletes to start out in the sport, but often as athletes develop they opt to move to a more individualised coaching/program model. Oran athlete on an individualised program may opt into certain sessions (ie swim sessions) for coach/technique feedback in certain areas.

9. Do you want an individualised specific program designed for you?

There is a big difference in the offer of an individualised/personalised specific program versus group training. An individual program is tailored to your personal needs and will therefor include heart rate, duration and pace parameters suitable to your goals and current fitness level. It considers your strengths and weaknesses – therefore varying the type and frequency of these sessions (ie You wont find 2-3 x Swim, Bike, Run per week, all year round). It includes constant communication and feedback between coach and athlete and would include discussions about how you feel, your mental state, stress levels, your recovery techniques and current nutrition / sleep habits. You will expect to pay more for this type of coaching service compared to group training sessions. So if you are looking at an individual specific program, ensure your definition is the same as the Coaches. A fully individualised plan will be more expensive than a plan slightly modified template program, or a program given at group training sessions.

10. What are the Coaches expectations of you as an athlete?
It is important to understand what expectations your coach has of you. This can be things like: Type and amount of communication/feedback, protocols around injury/illness, time frames around notifying of events/races, adherence to training program etc. So ask your potential coach – what do they expect of you as an athlete, this will ensure that you are on the both page up front.

Here are some further questions to ask your potential Coach:

  • What is their Coaching specialty/expertise What are their qualifications/education?
  • What TYPE of program will be delivered? (ie individualised, template, group sessions)
  • How do they deliver the program? How do they facilitate communication / feedback?
  • What can you expect from them as a Coach?
  • What education do they provide their athletes for continual improvement?
  • What practitioners (if any) do they work closely with their athletes?

Once you have done your homework, get in contact with a few coaches that tick the boxes for you, and remember to keep in mind what commitment you want to make – both in time and money, and what you hope to get out of it.

Don’t be afraid to ask (more!) questions about how they will help you achieve your goals–no matter what your goals are. They are YOUR goals, so you must be happy with your decision.

And if you would like to organise a FREE coaching consultation, reach out to find out whether CPC is the right fit for you. 



I love racing. I do. I love the feeling of pushing my body to it’s limits, against every other athlete out there on the day and seeing where that lands me.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been competitive. No matter the sport. I don’t generally half @arse things. I go all in, otherwise I’m out. Growing up I played team sports, netball and basketball both at a high level, and I had a dabble at soccer too. I love the competitiveness, and I love winning.

Then came along triathlon in my 20’s and I went all in there. Wanting to learn the craft, finding out how hard I could push my body and what result that would bring on race day. I would thrive off racing, and I didn’t want to settle. I was by and large ‘all in’. Racing results were my main motivation for training. And I’ve done that for 15 years, with some great success, but not with a LOT of hard work. I trained to race and I thrived off that.

BUT over the past 12 months or so, racing hasn’t been my main motivator for training anymore.

I still train every day. Sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I still put myself through sessions that I give to my athletes so I know what they feel like / should feel like. I still like pushing myself and setting myself goals and challenges. I love the feeling of feeling fit, and healthy.

But I don’t actually have the drive to want to race to win anymore. I know I could. Because I’m stubborn like that. And I know if I wanted to, I could. But I don’t. I’ve still dabbled in running and cycling and triathlon races, but not with as much focus or as much gusto. Old me would not have raced, if I wasn’t fit and strong enough to give it my best, I wouldn’t have put myself on the start line.

And it has been hard to reconcile in my head at times. My last ‘competitive’ race was Port Macquarie Half Ironman in 2022. I finished 4th in my age group, as a full time coach, and full time mum to a 3 & 4 year old. Before that, it was 2 years prior at Geelong Half Ironman where I qualified for the Half Ironman World Champs. (Ironically being held this year in New Zealand) with a 1 & 2 year old. That was tough, but oh so satisfying!

Back then all I wanted to do was win. And I was fully engrossed in it. My whole identity was wrapped up in it. I prioritised training and racing to win over just about everything else in my life. I just wanted to WIN. Until I didn’t want to anymore…..

I saw a post a couple of years ago by another coach and it said something along the lines of a coach must be able to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. And it didn’t sit well with me. But at the same time I was like, shit I better keep racing to be able to ‘prove’ that I can and prove that I can coach – BUT then it dawned on me. The two are mutually exclusive, they don’t have to go hand in hand. Sometimes they do – which I’ve done for years. But they certainly don’t have to and we all know LOTS of successful coaches that don’t race at a high level anymore – or at all. So, with that, over the last couple of years as things have shifted, my mindset shifted and so did my priorities.

I am always saying to athletes that intrinsic motivation should be first and foremost. Of course use extrinsic motivation to aid you, to continue to drive you to be better, but your main motivator should come from within. Yet here I was, using a post I came across on facebook and the perception I thought others must have of me to continue to drive me. But like most people who rely on extrinsic motivation, that can often only last for so long….

When I had our first born (nearly 7 years ago) I wanted / needed to get back racing. I didn’t want to loose that identity as an ‘athlete’. That’s what I had known myself as for so much of my life. The satisfaction I got from it was huge and all my energy and focus was on those goals.

But in come children, two at that in quick succession and things slowly shifted. My want and need to have a singular goal and focus for myself has become lesser as our children have grown. And my growth and personal satisfaction has come more from the athletes that I coach, the group we have built, of the Club that I support, the community that we now live in and of course – my family.

I don’t need to race at the top level anymore if I don’t want to – to simply ‘walk the walk’.

I don’t need to race for external satisfaction.

I know I can now race if and when I want to.

I can race because I CAN, because I know HOW and because I LOVE to. Not because I feel I have to.

I have learnt that it is the training itself and the discipline it brings that I actually love the most, not necessarily the racing. The racing is a by product – a bonus if you will…. Perhaps, deep down that’s what has always driven me, I just didn’t realise it …. I don’t have to force myself to train or exercise, I do it because I love it.

Which is why I stay fit. Which is why I train every day. So I can, if I want, when I want, where I want. A quick little prep will have me ready and I’ll enjoy returning to those feelings. But I most likely won’t go ‘all in’ like I used to, not because I can’t, but because I choose not to.

Now that all may change again at some point. What feels right now, may not be the same in another few years. We all go through seasons in life and I love embracing all of them.

And that’s what I also love about coaching each individual athlete I have. I have some athletes in the early stages of their athletic journeys, going all in, and I fully embrace that, support that and help foster the environment and training that they need.
I have other athletes who prefer a softer balance to their training, competing when they can, and training as it fits into their life. I have others who don’t compete – at all. They simply love the structure and discipline of training in their lives, and staying fit. Just as I do. And I have the pro and inspiring pros. The high achievers. Those chasing PB’s, wanting the most out of themselves, and I love being on the sidelines for all of that. I love being part of each of their journeys.

So no matter the athletes path, or where they are at in their journey. I love all of it, because it is THEIR journey. Just as I am on my own journey. And as a Coach, I love that I’ve been through all facets of it. I’ve been the beginner, the green and keen athlete, the top age grouper, I’ve dabbled as a pro, a mum juggling it all, and the one still here for the long haul.

And I am grateful to be part of that and still join in on the ride!

Coach Sarah x

Motivate in May

A THIRTY (ONE) DAY Challenge in May !

Choose your challenge.
Make a habit. Or break one.
Spark personal growth
Build mental resilience.
Or try something new.
Motivate in May is for you!

If you are off the back of a long season (regardless if you raced or not), or embarking on a new season / training program, then this is the perfect time to lay the ground work for your best 2023/2024 performances. It can be easy to lose the rhythm of training as it gets colder and darker outside. Or you may be without a key race to inspire you to jump out of bed in the morning… SO I INVITE YOU – join us in a challenge to help continue to build your physical resilience and positive daily habits.

 NO ONE is immune to the allure of wanting to stay in bed on a cold, dark, early morning. That’s where accountability matters. And that’s where our CPC community will join together, encourage each other, share your daily ‘wins’, – and maybe even your struggles! Set yourself up NOW – and your winter / base preparation will set you up for the weeks and months to come….


This challenge falls in line with our learnings of setting goals (in this instance a challenge) and defining your why, so we can measure our success (read more here). Our May challenge involves you choosing a goal (challenge) to complete over/during the 31 days of May.

Some examples:

Swim /Run/Ride 25/50/75/100k in May
Train every day in May
Strength / Mobility / Pilates/ Yoga Challenge in May
Try a new way in May (ie commit to finding a new training route week/each session)
Try something new in May (ie a new gym, a new exercise/sport/hobby)
Zwift route challenge in May

The ideas are limitless, the benefits endless !

You want to make it specific (and challenging) for you. Something to drive you in May, and encourage you to make (or break) a habit, spark personal growth, build mental resilience, or simply try something new!

So get thinking, get creative, have a WHY and share with our CPC Community. Nothing like sharing your goals to stay accountable !

CHOOSE your goal | CHALLENGE yourself | SHARE your wins !

Athlete in Profile: Nicole Wilson

An athlete with 30 years experience in the sport still chasing the high of racing, the love of training, the challenge of balancing family, work and training and the ultimate love of feeling strong, fit and healthy. Starting her Triathlon days in the 1990’s Nicole has seen the sport change, and take shape over the years to where we are today and we can’t wait to continue the triathlon journey with her….

Name: Nicole Wilson

Nickname: Nic. Nice and simple!

Age / Age Group: Old Hen! ;-p

Lives: Malvern, Vic

Targeted Sport: Triathlon

Years in the Sport: 30 years (on and off) (told you I was an old hen…)

How did you get started: Monash University Tri Club. Like minded people who even made a Saturday night swim squad session fun!
(I do not know ANYONE who swims on a sat night – so there’s a first!)

Why I choose CPC: I was introduced by another CPC athlete Caroline Houston. 🙂
(would of mouth is fab – thanks Caroline!) 😉

What I ‘get’ from my sport: I love the challenge and diversity of 70.3 Triathlon racing. With more self-sufficient teenagers at home it’s been great to invest in consistent training and hopefully greater life longevity. I aspire to keep racing and training for a long as my aging body can keep up.

Ultimate Goal:  Swimming, riding and running for as long as my body will allow – at at least until l get my pensioner card.

What I couldn’t live without: A family who are very understanding & flexible.

Biggest love: My boys (husband, 3 teenagers and dog)

Pet peeve!: Wasting time.
(ohhhh that’s a goodie! We’re with you on this one!)

Interesting fact about me: Country girl who grew up in Cobram.

Athlete in Profile: Heath Lowry

Relatively new to the sport of triathlon, but not new to setting big goals! ‘Heater’ is preparing himself for the heat of Busso and tackling his first Ironman. But the journey hasn’t been without it’s challenges, including working on his mental health, keeping niggles at bay and doing the hard yards solo! But he has a story to tell – including one that involves the great Michael Schumacher ! . . .

Name: Heath Lowry

Nickname: heater

Age / Age Group: 35-39

Lives: Moama, Vic

Targeted Sport: Triathlon & AFL !

Years in the Sport: 2-3years in Triathlon

How did you get started: My uncle is in the sport and he encourages me to get involves, and the local triathlon club in Echuca/Moama has been great.

Why I choose CPC: Sarah was recommend to me many years ago, and now that I have a couple of big goals thought it would be smart to get the right coaching! A good decision, because now I don’t have to just be in my own head, I know what’s planned and I can bounce things off her – especially any doubts I may have along the way !

What I ‘get’ from my sport: In recent years I have struggled with my mental health and by getting outside training it has helped massively in this space. The benefits of it have been huge on my journey.

Ultimate Goal:  To complete the Busselton Ironman in December 2023!

What I couldn’t live without: My Coffee Machine

Biggest love: Vietnamese pho soup

Pet peeve!: Bad Manners!

Interesting fact about me: I once cooked a meal for Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari F1 Team. (I think we will all need more details on this Heath!!)

Reliving my Kona experience

I had mentioned recently to my athletes that it was 10 years since I raced in Kona. My Ironman World Champs experience was in 2013 – the year that Mirinda Carfrae won her second Ironman World Championship Title and had the 3rd fastest run split of the day – including the pro men. Simply incredible! She then went on to win and break her own run course record again the following year in 2014. And only now, have we just witnessed a new run course record thanks to Anne Haug with a 2:48.23 in 2023!

I could have sworn I did a race report / recap after my Kona race – and I thought I found it, but it was actually a recount of my first Ironman – Ironman Melbourne in 2013 when I qualified for Kona in a time of 9:23 (year the swim was shortened). Read about that race experience and how I qualified here.

So I don’t have my recap to share with you, however I did find some of my pics and what I can say is, what an awesome experience it was. And I got to share that experience with my parents – something they still remember fondly. As well as long time friend and athlete Narelle Crooks who was on the sidelines supporting, along with her hubby Nathan who was racing and fellow training buddy Brett. Brett, Nathan and I spent countless hours together training. So many long rides and long runs together, hundreds of laps in the pool, open water swims, trainer sessions, interval runs around the tana and along the beach…. Brett and I even travelled to Port Douglas in the lead up to Kona for a Half Distance race – trying to acclimatise for the heat before we arrived.

But honestly, nothing can really prepare you for the heat and humidity. It truly is a HOT and brutal the race is. But how spectacular and magical the Island is. I get why athletes all over the world still want to compete at this race. It’s not about becoming one of the best in the world in your age group, it is the experience. Living and breathing Ironman the week leading into the race, swimming in the crystal blue waters amongst tropical fish, turtles and dolphins, riding along the Queen K and through the lava fields, running along Ali’i’ Drive, up Palani and through the Energy Lab. And that finish line line. Simply incredible! The visuals from race broadcasts are exactly that. But being there, experiencing it, putting your body through it, truly is something else. And in that moment, the result matters little. Especially for those going there for the first time….

My Kona result?
Swim 1:11.38
Bike: 5:34.14
Run: 3:45.22
Overall: 10:39.53

For anyone who has the dream of racing the World Champs, talk to me. It truly is an incredible experience and something that is possible with the right training, hard work and race planning… I previously wrote an blog on how to qualify for the Ironman World Championships. So take a read if you want to find out more on how and what it takes to qualify for this magnificent race…