I'm going to take some heat for this post.
WHO coaches you matters. If you're a woman it really matters.
I used to think that men coaches were just as good for women as women coaches. I was wrong. The flip side, however, is true. Women coaches are equally good for men as they are for women. The reason for this is that historically all research has been done on male athletes. Women coaches have as much access to this existing information as do their male counterparts. In fact, training plans are built completely around men.
There are very few male coaches who are willing to put in the time, to go out of their way to learn about how women and men are different. Also, how women and men are different as they age and how it affects training, recovery & nutrition.
CASE IN POINT: Several months back, USAT offered several seminars aimed at women's needs. Coaches did not earn CEU (points) for attending these seminars. In other words, for a coach to attend, it meant they really cared about their female clients.
I follow MANY coaches on Twitter and Facebook. I did not see ONE male coach advertise the fact that he attended these seminars. Now, they could have gone in silence. But, if you were a coach, would YOU want half the population to know that you are taking a course to help them? Yes. You would. You would take pictures. You would thank USAT PUBLICLY. You would do everything necessary to show HALF the population that you take their training seriously.
In the past 6 months, I've learned all of this after doing all the research that I have been doing. I do this research because my training is important to me. I have goals. I want to accomplish those goals. I'm in a position where I can do what I need to accomplish those goals.
Recently, my Coach wrote this post about the differences between ages, genders & abilities.
Of course, there are bad female coaches out there, just like there are bad male coaches. Not all women are going to go through the process of learning. BUT, if they currently train and race triathlon, the likelihood is good that they stay up on all the current research because it affects them. The BEST of coaches stay up on research because it affects their clients.
If you are a woman, and you are looking for a coach, here are the questions you need to ask (in my opinion):
1.) How will you assess & determine what my individual training will look like?
2.) How will my training differ from a woman who is 10 years younger? How will it differ from a man the same age?
3.) How do you stay current on research that benefits women (and men)?
4.) How do you respond when I question the training tactics?
5.) How will you respond when I have a bad workout? How will you respond when I quit a workout? How will you respond when I have a great workout?
6.) What percentage of your female athletes podium, qualify for nationals or world championships, etc. as compared to your male athletes? If a lower percentage of women qualify for big events, that demonstrates the point.
Of course, there are the basic questions such as: cost, communication, etc. My goal is to get you to ask the questions that are really going to matter. These are the questions that you need to ask early.
GREAT Coaches won't mind answering.
BAD Coaches will take offense.