"Training is a balance between what the athlete wants and feels like they need and what the coach sees a need for."
– Coach Laura Henry
My coach-mates have great quotes. I like the solidity of this quote. At the same time, it’s a bit like nailing Jell-O to the wall or herding cats. You think you have your training dialed in and suddenly things like pandemics upend your training plans and daily routines.
So, here we all are, practicing social distancing or maybe even quarantined. Many of us are working from home, taking online classes because schools are closed, navigating how to keep children occupied, and a host of other new dynamics to daily life. It might mean that you have a surplus of time to train.
What do you do?! How do you take advantage of surplus time or more flexible routines, navigate new routines, stay healthy, and make fitness gains? This is done in three steps.
1. What training we WANT to do (because it’s enjoyable).
2. What training we feel we NEED to do (to meet our goals).
3. What our Coach sees a need for (because they have the master plan and have over-watch on our season).
If done correctly, these three priorities can actually complement each other and produce some great training results! This is particularly relevant now, with our current training restrictions, but the principle applies all the time.
Here are a few examples:
· What the athlete wants: I want to swim, but the pools are all closed.
· What the athlete needs: I need to start increasing time spent on the bike because I’m signed up for ‘X’ race and because I need to continue to improve my cycling skills.
· What Coach sees: This is a great time for a cycling block – the athlete will be on the bike more frequently and we can improve skills and increase time/distance on the bike.
· What the athlete wants: I want to do long runs.
· What the athlete needs to do: Run intervals for increasing speed.
· What the Coach sees: This is a great time for a run block where we can do some interval training and some longer, endurance runs. We’ll have to have a conversation about how to handle the additional running and the importance of the specificity of the run workouts.
· What the athlete wants: I want to analyze all my recent data gathered by my tracking devices.
· What the athlete needs: Training that doesn’t require any devices other than an old-time digital watch.
· What the Coach sees: This is a great time to do training where we’re learning more about our body and Rating of Perceived exertion (RPE) – how to increase our pace when we’re running to a certain RPE, how to shift gears on our bike when we’re working harder or when it’s easier (hello dumb trainer, goodbye erg!).
Let’s talk "DO's" and "DO NOT's":
· DO communicate your current limitations to your Coach (i.e. no place to swim, no bike trainer, the dog ate one of your running shoes, your children are out of school – you get the point!).
· DO take the time to talk to your Coach about what you want and what you think you need.
· DO talk to your Coach about their plan for you.
· DO follow your plan, as written.
· DO NOT ignore the current opportunity to improve what you can!
We’re in unprecedented times. Some of you may be sheltering in place and some may have more freedom to wander. Take care of yourselves and your family. Use this time as a training opportunity you may never have again!