Coaching News – April

Another month has almost disappeared leaving me to once again wonder where does the time go?  It seems only yesterday that it was the turn of the year and I was fielding calls from new prospective athletes.  With a little reshuffle of the pack, I was producing the first training plans for those whose objectives we are now rapidly approaching this year.  In the world of coaching, this is not uncommon – both from the fullness of days (there never seems to be enough time to complete the whole coaching process) and hence the days disappear with alarming rapidity, but also with the one season phenomena.  

Historically, athletes would work on 2 to 4 year plans which allow time for building the base endurance levels and developing the necessary skills before embarking on the tactical and goal specific training.  This worked well for both coach and athlete because, assuming compatibility, the relationship would be able to develop over time with both parties benefitting from the continuity.  As the coach began to understand the athlete, the specificity and personalisation of training began to increase, and, safe in the knowledge that the relationship was long term, both coach and athlete would be able to invest the necessary time to allow this to happen.

We have come some considerable distance since then – no pun intended.  The UK Athletics ‘four year plan to the marathon’ has been long forgotten and, today, it is not uncommon to be asked to coach newcomers from standstill to Ironman in 16 weeks or less.  For many reasons, I prefer the former example, and not the latter, and not just for economic reasons either!  Now I am not simply taking the moral high ground here, because there are very good reasons not to rush into the fray with any long distance or high intensity exercise goal.  But I generally take that stance because of the time and effort I put in to understand the athlete’s needs, review the data and provide the personalised plans which assist the athlete to achieve success success.  (Now that’s a topic for another day!)  In the past, I have tended to turn away from the four month to IronMan brigade because it is felt that any 16 week generic plan would probably suit and that is a market I have always avoided.

However, engaging in conversation with a fellow coach recently, I had the opportunity to reflect on my stance on this topic.  Whilst I would still be cautious of taking on any athlete over such a short period, in truth, a four year marathon plan can be produced with far less risk through trial and error with plenty of time to adapt and recover from mistakes.  A four month IronMan plan is, by contrast, fraught with risk and uncertainty and there is perhaps a much greater need for coaching support required for athletes undertaking these ambitious challenges.  This really is good food for thought, and I may have to re consider my future offerings!

With the London marathon behind us – and I may return to this race next month in terms of some excellent running data  – we are now in the midst of the international duathlon and national triathlon season.  Once again we had representation at the European Duathlon Champs and we are in the last couple of weeks of preparation for the Long Distance Champs in Copenhagen.  I will be seeing some of you there and trying to race, but my prime reason for going is in my capacity as team captain to try and drum up more competitors for the world championships in Zofingen.  There is some debate at present as to whether holding the competition at Zof every year is a deterrent to participation.  The counter argument is of course, if not there, then where?  Whilst on that particular subject, the first qualification deadline has passed for Zofingen and I am awaiting confirmation of acceptance for athletes who have already registered.  I have a call booked for later today to confirm when this will happen.

In general, everyone appears to be getting back on track with the training after a round of really debilitating illnesses.  It has been yet another peculiar winter and spring and although this additional cold weather spell is a bit disappointing from a training perspective, it will hopefully help to kill of some of the bugs that seem to have resisted the winter.  I have had a busy run of athlete testing and assessment of late – one of the reasons this report has been delayed – and have been heavily engaged in coach tutoring for Triathlon England.   Trying to balance the two is always a challenge, but the priority remains with my coached athletes.  The revised pricing for additional services has assisted in attracting some of this additional business however all coached athletes will continue to receive discounts on these additional services. I am in the process of developing some further field tests for cycling and may run a test day next month.  I will keep you all posted .

Well, I have almost succeeded in reaching the end on an update without discussing drugs in sport…..almost, but perhaps I will save that for next time.  

Well done in your training guys, please keep up the good work and keep the feedback coming.  Invoices will be out later today…sorry for the delay!

Yours in sport

JC

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