Not all things are created equal
Hey there!! Welcome to Coach Tip Tuesday!!
Today I’d like to talk with you all about how not all things are created equal. I’ve talked this through with almost every athlete who I’ve coached over the years, so it strikes me as something that’s incredibly important to share and discuss.
There’s a lot of creativity that goes into a training plan, both in the construction of it (which is what a coach does) and the execution of it (which is what an athlete does). A coach needs to be creative in the sense that they need to figure out the best way to design a plan that both fits into the athlete’s life and that will set them up for success. An athlete needs to be creative with how the plan is incorporated into their life, and that includes how, when, and where they get those workouts in.
A lot of athletes assume that miles are miles, or that hours are hours in terms of getting things in workout-wise. This isn’t always the case. For instance, almost every triathlete who I have ever coached has brought up using spin or stationary bikes at a gym to get their scheduled rides in. After a learning curve on my end, I learned that this isn’t a great idea. Why not?? Isn’t a bike a bike?? Nope, folks, it’s not. If you ride a bicycle, it is drastically different than a spin bike or a stationary bike. First and foremost, the bike at the gym hasn’t been fit to you. Secondly, the stance width (the distance between your two pedals) is significantly different on a stationary or spin bike than it is on your bicycle. As such, using a stationary or spin bike puts the athlete at higher risk for injury, and it also doesn’t allow the athlete to develop the muscular endurance needed to sustain their bike fit or for the event that they’re training for. Using a stationary or spin bike is not the same thing as training on the athlete’s own bicycle.
Treadmills are obviously a very popular toll for runners and triathletes alike. While they certainly do have their benefits, the biggest thing to bear in mind about treadmills is that they run the athlete; the athlete does not run the treadmill. What do I mean by this?? The speed of the belt is what is determining the athlete’s speed, and by extension, the athlete’s running form, cadence, etc.; the athlete is not actually in charge, so to speak. Additionally, the surface of a treadmill is very different than asphalt, concrete, or dirt trails. Both of these things are really important to note since running races and triathlons take place outside, on various terrain. For optimal success, it’s necessary to train the body to absorb the impact forces that it will experience on race day, and to sustain the form and pacing that the athlete desires on race day.
There are countless other examples of now things are not all created equal in training; these are merely the most common ones that I’ve encountered as a coach. Now, don’t read this and think that I’m saying never, ever to use these tools. If it’s a choice between skipping a workout entirely versus getting it in, even if it’s not the “ideal” way to get it in, then there is some value in using them, as long as the risk to the athlete isn’t too high. I talk a lot about the three pillars of training (frequency, consistency, and self-awareness) with all athletes who I work for. Today’s theme speaks to the pillar of consistency: It’s important that you train consistently how you are going to be racing. So this Tuesday, like all Coach Tip Tuesdays, I want to get you all thinking about things that you might not have considered before, and ultimately, I want to help you be able to make the best choices possible for you to be able to reach your goals. So this week, know that things are not all created equal, and use that to guide your choices so you’re set up for success. :)