Once you've decided to hire a triathlon coach, the next step is finding "the one." The process of finding the right coach may take a bit of time and effort, but the payoff can be significant (it's a lot like dating). For some triathletes, working with the right coach can mean the difference between finishing a race in the lead and struggling to finish at all.
Before you hire a triathlon coach, carefully consider what you're hoping to gain from the experience. If you really only need help with the running portion of the race, hire a running coach rather than someone who specializes in all three triathlon events. If you're brand-new to the sport, it might be best to hire a generalist with plenty of experience with the many challenges each race presents. Logistical issues are also important, such as whether you need in-person training or can work with a remote coach. This will determine not only where you go to look for a coach, but how much it's going to cost.
If having a coach who is certified with USA Triathlon is important to you, a good place to start your search is USA Triathlon's national directory. There are also many Web-based training sites that offer coaching services ranging from prepackaged one-size-fits-all programs to highly individualized e-coaching strategies. Generally speaking, the more personalized the coaching, the more expensive the service will be. The upside is that the more you're willing to spend, the more selective you can be. When screening a potential coach, be sure to ask about his or her personal history with the sport of triathlon as well as the performance results of any previous triathlon clients.
Once you've covered these basic screening questions, you can focus on the most important issue: whether or not you and your potential coach are compatible training partners. This may be a matter of personality, whether your schedules are similar or how much time you're willing to commit to your training. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of different coaches out there, and you should take time to choose the one who is right for you. While it's true that the success of your training depends largely on your level of commitment, having the right coach can help you achieve your triathlon goals.