Choosing A Coach? Choosing A Dog? Questions To Ask Yourself.


Hi folks,

Boy and pit bull 'praying.' From:

Boy and pit bull 'praying.' From:

It’s been an interesting couple of days, and now we are thinking about adopting a pit bull. She seems to be a lovely little dog. Pit bulls are generally frowned upon, but this has not always been the case. It would appear that this breed has been inappropriately maligned, according to the interesting linked article on the ‘I’ve Got Something To Say‘ blogsite. I think that we are going to go ahead with this, but the process reminded me of another important selection process, the choice of a triathlon coach.

Apparently pit bulls are great child minders. From:

Apparently pit bulls are great child minders. From:

Unlike dogs needing homes, who will seek you out, you have to hunt for the right coach. I wonder if there should be an eHarmony coach service. There are ways to find a coach, such as the Triathlon Coach Finder, but selecting the right person for you will be a matter of trial and error. Unlike our pit bull decision, you can move to another coach, but I don’t think one should ‘unadopt’ a stray except under the most extreme of circumstances. When it comes to coaches, I have been very fortunate in that my youngest son, Nigel, an experienced triathlete, has helped me to find the right person just as needed.

Trixie, a Rottweiler, and the loveliest most gentle dog you ever met. Still miss her.

Trixie, a Rottweiler, and the loveliest most gentle dog you ever met. Still miss her.


Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when addressing such a critical decision in your life, be it coach or dog (or doctor or dentist or mate or Internet hosting company, or whatever for that matter):

  1. Can I change my mind if I am not happy? If the coach is a personal friend, that might be difficult.
  2. Is it a good fit with respect to my lifestyle and my family? When it comes to coaches, you must decide whether you plan to go with high volume or high intensity, as they are completely different approaches to training that have considerable impact on your lifestyle.
  3. What is their track record? Has this coach bitten anyone, for instance?
  4. Are they active or passive? Personally, I prefer to have a coach who is actively participating in my sport, but what is your preference?
  5. Are they house-trained, had all their shots and been spayed? Basically, are they healthy? Not sure what the coaching equivalent of these might be, but I bet they exist. Beware a coach who is constantly injured, is my only thought. Your ideas?
  6. How old are they and how old are you? Can a young coach understand an older athlete when they haven’t been there yet?
  7. Do they like you? This is an odd question, but chemistry between man and beast (be it dog or coach) is critical for a healthy, happy, effective relationship.
  8. Are your expectations appropriate?
  9. Can you afford them?

I now have the right coach, Chris Haute (definitely a volume guy, and it works for me), but will I have the right dog? Guess I’ll find out soon enough. If this dog is half as nice as Trixie (see picture above), who was of another breed that is demonized, I’ll be very happy.

-k @FitOldDog

PS We met with the dog. She was great with us but she tried to kill Scooter (and she wasn’t joking), so we had to say “No!,” which was a bummer.



  1. Do not like the analogy as I do not like dogs. They need constant attention and are as dependent as babies.
    However, they are pack animals. Their packs are hierarchical. Their packs are predatory.
    In the UK, c.100 people are hospitalised a week as a result of dog attacks. For coach attacks I have found no stats..
    A significant number of dog owners do not know their have a derivative of a wolf in their home that is a potentially lethal predatory pack animal and they ought be the pack leader not their dog. Many dogs seem not to concur with this.
    Oh, and now and then, dogs kill and maim babies and young children. Data on coaches with this regard was not traced on a Google search.
    No, I find liking dogs deeply irrational and the responses to saying I do not like dogs to be similarly irrational. Dog owners decline to permit me the right to be averse to their beast.
    Parrots would also not be a good analogy for a good coach as they are unoriginal and boringly repetitious but they will tell you that you are a “pretty boy then” so may boost your self image.
    Churchill said: “Dogs look up at you, Cats will look down on you, Pigs look at you”, this he said was why he liked pigs. Hay, and they can’t half run fast as well.
    So on balance I would get a coach who comes recommended by other athletes in similar circumstances with similar personal targets and not try to equate her or him to a domesticated beast.
    (Sorry about this but I have had to make two visits to casualty (American: emergency room) as a result of dog attacks and both times were when out walking and both attacks were sudden, unexpected and from behind. Oh, and both times the owners skedaddled without any apology. Yes I have baggage that I carry.)

    • Hi Trevor,

      Very interesting. Yes! I do quite like dogs, but I didn’t take the pit bull as she immediately tried to kill Scooter (not very endearing). She was nice to people; I had a dalmatian like that previously. I found the analogy quite entertaining and, by the way, my coach isn’t touchy-feely, he just tells me what to do and then informs me when I go wrong. For instance, when I completed the Lake Placid Ironman one year in my best time, taking about half an hour off of my time, his only comment (literally) was “What happened to your cadence on the bike?” I checked my computer, and my average cadence was only 77; 13 rpm too slow. So I worked on that for a few years and now it is ok.

      I have also been attacked by dogs but they failed, fortunately, and I always carry pepper spray on my bike. All that said, people are much more dangerous than dogs, more aggressive, and definitely much more crafty. Guess we like different ‘beasts’ for different reasons.

      I do like your comments.

      Woof Woof

  2. It is a criminal offence to carry pepper spray in this country. Yes it is the owners who are dangerous dogs are their tools.
    I warm to your coach. He will not be saying “who’s a pretty boy then?”

  3. My co-worker Christina volunteers for an advocacy agency for pit bulls in Raleigh called “The Positive Pitbull”. Their mission is to reduce the negative associations with pit bulls among the public. They have a website and also a Facebook page. Check it out….

  4. Hi Brad,

    I am afraid that this dog really wanted to kill Scooter, whilst being delightful in every other way. As a member of the family, Scooter vetoed the new arrival.

    Thanks for the info, and hope you are well.


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.