All - I am getting over foot surgery, but I am looking to hire a coach for when I'm cleared to swim/bike/run.
History: I'm a tough case. My history is that I've played sports and/or jogged for 20 years. I'm on my third year of triathlon. However, I'm very un-athletic compared to most triathletes. I'm overweight (probably obese). I run a 12 minute mile (10min if only one mile), swim 2:30; bike 16mph. I've completed several sprints and a couple of Olympics. I've finished about 7 half-marathons. I've finished one half-ironman in 8 hours.
Goal(s): Half-Ironman in October and finish in 7 hours. Marathon in 2014. Ironman in 2015 or 2016 (just finish; why? I'm better at endurance than sprints).
There are lots of coaches and coach groups in my area so I'm looking for advice on how to choose one.
Time: I work a full time job but I have lots of time other than that. I do get to work from home twice a week. I have flexible hours.
Motivation: I always need it.
Full disclosure: Due to bad junior high memories, I'm scared of female coaches.
Problem: I just don't know how to pick a coach. I figure I'm a tough project, but I don't want anyone too inexperienced or, honestly, mean.
To start you should ask around and see who has recommendations/referrals for you. The best way to pick a coach is to talk to someone who is being coached by that person.
Then you need to get a list of your "must have's". Don't short change yourself by not making a list. You need to know what you want and don't want.
For example, I was recently looking for a coach and I knew there were things I needed to have... such as someone who uploaded my workouts online (I once had a coach who couldn't even email me a Word document- he was challenge by technology). I also knew I needed someone who could upload my workouts on time (sounds silly, but there are coaches who are late uploading workouts- I had one of those too! There I would be Monday morning, not knowing what my training was for the week.). Those are just a couple of items I asked about.
You should ask yourself if you need a coach who is OK with you needing changes to your training plan- will you need changes to the training plan? I personally won't hire a coach who has all these different levels of coaching services. If I can't figure out your pricing structure, your coaching is too complicated for me. And as an athlete, I want a coach who WANTS to receive emails from me, etc. Versus someone who limits our contact. I don't understand how a coach can be effective who sends me a monthly training plan and doesn't want to hear from me, unless I want to pay $500 a month. NUTS. To me, that's not effective. Thus, I won't hire someone who coaches like that.
A good coach should modify their approach to meet your needs. Period. I have a spot on my new client profile where I ask the person what motivates them with regards to being coached. If they say yelling/being mean doesn't motivate them... then I wouldn't ever do it. If a coach can't motivate and inspire their athletes, then they aren't coaching. Since this is important to you, you need to ask who you are interviewing how they motivate their athletes.
While this might sound odd, you need to ask your coach if he is OK training someone who is overweight (I'm only mentioned this based on what you stated in your post). One of my clients said she is pretty sure her coach didn't want to train someone who is overweight. She felt like he discriminated against her (wouldn't invite her to group events, etc.), and she heard from reliable sources that he would make rude comments about overweight women when he saw them. She also said that he only seemed like he wanted to coach elites/pro's. And some coaches only want to coach someone who is at that level.
Otherwise, you are NOT a tough case. Seriously. Every athlete has their own set of challenges. A good coach can coach anyone at any level with any challenge. There isn't a "one size fits all" with regards to training and coaching. Honestly, it is harder to coach someone who is already doing a 10 hour Ironman and needs to get it in the 9 hour range. That's hard to do, because at that point the training plan and what is on there has to be spot on to get that kind of performance out of someone (high risk of injury, etc.). But someone like you, is great! You have history in the sport and the ability to train and complete what you set out to do.
Good luck on your search! And do interview who you are considering! Know what you want and ask for it!