I spent part of last weekend running on Highway 30A in the Florida Panhandle. After the run in the sun, my husband and I were listening to a station called ‘Oldies’. The Billy Joel song, “Tell Her About It,” came on the radio and much to my husband’s chagrin, I belted out the tune like I was onstage with the artist himself.
The title of the song made me think about coach/athlete communications. While every coach is different, just as every athlete is different, the coach and athlete need to discuss what needs to be communicated between them so the athlete can be as successful as possible. While the list below isn’t all-inclusive, I thought I would pass along some topics that I, and the athletes I work for, discuss:
Illness and injury
Logging training and post-workout comments
Discussions can take place in many forms, but for us, quite often, it's through the coaching platform, Final Surge.
What does this look like?
Travel may be planned weeks in advance or travel may be last-minute. Regardless, it’s important that I hear about it because knowing about the travel allows me to further query the athlete as to what gear they’re going to have access to. For example, are you going to Hawaii on vacation and will run and swim but won’t have access to a bike? Are you traveling for work and have meetings scheduled from the crack of dawn to sundown? How much time can the athlete commit to training daily while traveling? I just ask the athletes to give me as much warning as possible so we can set them up for success while traveling.
Many years ago, I told a coach in post-workout comments that I had ‘toughed’ out my run, despite the cold and cough I’d had for a few days. This triggered a call from the coach, asking clarifying questions but also informing me to check my training plan. I found a completely empty plan with a note from the coach asking that I let them know when I was feeling better so we could start plan training. Since this incident happened 12 years ago, you can tell the impact it had on me!
Illness and injury are issues that the athlete and coach will negotiate carefully.
Some issues for the coach and athlete to consider are: Who is affected by the illness (it could be the athlete or a family member)? If it’s the athlete - What steps have been taken to remedy/diagnose the illness/injury? What else can be done to remedy the issue? How soon does the athlete race? How does the injury/illness impact this block of training or this year’s training (in case of serious issues)? If it’s a family member, the coach and athlete should discuss what time they do have to train and adjust to fit the athlete’s schedule as they help their family get healthy.
The athlete’s daily vitals can be extremely helpful to the coach – for example, Final Surge has a page where the athlete can record sleep hours, sleep amount, sleep quality, stress amount and blood pressure. Other metrics include weight, body fat, water % and muscle mass. Heart-rate variability (HRV) is another metric that will significantly help the coach and athlete plan training. The athlete takes a minute every morning to measure HRV via a heart rate strap or finger sensor. Team MPI has a partnership with ithlete for HRV. Ask your coach if this would help you!
Logging training and post-workout comments:
How frequently should the athlete update their completed training and input post-workout comments? Ideally, daily is awesome! However, life gets in the way and sometimes it doesn’t get logged immediately. Coaches and athletes should discuss expectations about when workouts need to be logged. And what about post-workout comments? These comments are part of daily metrics – it shows how the athlete was feeling before, during and after the training. For example, I’ve seen ‘Legs felt heavy for a mile, then I had a great run’ to ‘My body said no’. Comments can be quite serious, and comments can also be light-hearted and amusing. It’s very important that the coach and athlete establish guidelines for those post-workout notes.
Again, this list isn’t all-inclusive but those are four big items that I discuss with athletes. For this coach, ‘Tell Her About It’ applies to these items above! Now, go listen to Billy Joel! Happy training!