This is a question someone asked me that I’ve helped to train for a couple of years . . . this was my answer . . .
It depends on how much experience you have, what you hope to get out of it and what the local market it like.
I’ve done endurance sports since 1988. I’ve raced tri’s since 1997. Before that I was a certified personal trainer starting in late-1994. In my opinion, holding a training or coaching certification means very, very little. Today, it’s similar to holding a real estate license in 2007. After a weekend long class and passing a test you can be blessed. It does not mean you actually know the first thing about, on a deep level, all the things that work and are safe. That’s not to say holding a certification is bad as long as you are generally interested in sports science and read . . . everything . . . all the time. Then look what you have done in the sport. Where you finish is meaningless. Just because you got good genes and are a USAT AA, does not mean you know anything. And if you finish in the bottom 1/3 of your AG, it does know mean you don’t know your stuff. Sometime these two things provide opposite results. Just make sure you’ve tried it all, HIITs, Maffetone, Pig, Friel . . . if you don’t know what those are, you probably should learn before coaching. Finally make sure you’ve done it, sprints, Olympics, 70.3 and IM . . . a lot.
Then, why are you doing it? I brake even at the end of the day. I don’t charge people much but probably give to them more than a larger coaching organization with 50+ athletes. Those organizations, usually, are just plugging numbers into a program and cut and pasting whatever the software is spitting out. For about $300 a year you can get the same “personalized attention” using TrainingPeaks.com. I started for two reasons, one selfish. I wanted to help young newbies that are getting priced out of the sport by teaching them how to train. Two, I wanted subjects to experiment on to try to learn what is most effective, for who and try to figure out why . . . and what improvement really looks like using all of today’s tech and analytical tools. A single coach running a service on the side can only have about 5-6 athletes maximum if they are really providing individualized training. If you expect to get rich, it’s the wrong reason. If you want a little extra scratch on the side, that’s do-able.
Finally, know your market. I live in Phoenix. Here, if you toss a Cliff Bar into a Transition Area, 9 times out of 10 your are going to hit an athlete that is also a “tri coach”. 1 out of 10 are excellent. The other 9 probably don’t know sh*t, but are egomaniacs enough to think they do. There are tons of people that know more than I do. The question is can they translate it to a program that helps their athletes? If you have no, or very few coaching services in your area, any service you could provide might help. If you are in a saturated market like Phoenix, you need to find a unique aspect everyone else does not offer. For me, my handful of peps can come to my garage at any time for any type of test I can give them. That includes a trainer power test , or running, to a LT test using any tool I have (BSX, Moxy, Stryd, hematocrit level, etc.). I don’t pretend to have lab quality equipment, but I’m also not charging them for the hour it takes once very six weeks or so. And I have all this crap I’ve bought over the years, someone should use it. I’ll also sit down at a coffee shop any morning and spend an hour going over their training files with something like Golden Cheetah, WKO4 or some python coded software I’ve made to parse training logs.
Find a couple of young sponges that don’t have money. Do it for free with them for a set period of time, say six months. Help them learn. If after six months they feel you helped enough that it is worth money, agree they will start paying you.