Coaching News March
This March has become a month for reminders; a reminder that the harder athletes push themselves (or, if you prefer, the harder that coaches push their athletes) then the more at risk they are of injury and illness; a reminder however that if you don’t push yourself as an athlete then you are at risk of not improving; and a reminder that sometimes it can be useful to just escape the linear periodised approach to training and just get out there and crack on with having some fun instead.
In the first instance, and to our disappointment, this has been a tough month for illness and injury. In one case, the illness may be considered to be the reaction to a demanding training schedule compounded by the additional stressors of work and thus both understandable and, hopefully, controllable through ongoing recovery and realignment of training. In another instance the injury could be considered a case of over zealous enthusiasm perhaps getting the better of sensible personal administration. This also can be overcome with a few lessons learnt or at least not repeated again in the future and hopefully full training will resume again shortly. The third injury has been coming and going for much of the winter and these are the hardest to pin down and thus resolve. We have an eager athlete, otherwise firing on all cylinders, struggling to overcome an injury. Or, to be more precise, chasing an injury. Despite making the necessary adaptations and adjustments to overcome the issue, the injury appears to be on the move resulting in a stop-start approach to training.
Three different issues that are both frustrating and stressful and all requiring a different response. A coach who doesn’t sufficiently reduce the training load for an athlete in these situations could be considered negligent at the very least. However, it can also be all too easy to over react in these situations and dial the training back too far resulting in reduced progression. Historically, in these situations I have tended to be over cautious, relying on the athlete to determine when they feel it is appropriate to return to training. As much as it is the coaches roll to guide and advise, ultimately the athlete must learn to feel and understand how their body is working and be prepared to make the necessary action or, indeed, inaction as required. It can take a long time to understand the many nuances of a body, particularly a body under strain and yet as athletes we all need to achieve this level of self awareness. This is quite a responsibility for any athlete and patience is required.
So, what is the answer when the usual responses appear to be ineffective? Well, the third reminder this month has been that sometimes you should just get out there and train. This isn’t a claim for continual unstructured training, but is a call for just occasionally heading into the hills and having some fun. As multisport athletes, we are advantaged by having three disciplines to play with and, when one doesn’t want to play, we can at least focus on the other two. To that end, we were delighted to have enjoyed some pretty serious but fun training over the last week in France, particularly in cycling and swimming.
The roads of the Midi-pyrenees are perfect for training on, the best being regularly resurfaced for the Tour de France and the worst still better than much of the UK. The hills are challenging without being impossible to ride and range from rolling to steady 30 minute climbs. The descents are sufficiently challenging to allow the development of bike handling skills. The rides between the vineyards and villages with the occasional coffee stop made for both enjoyable and successful training. Add in the 50m heated outdoor swimming pool and the running trails and we have the perfect location for some less structured fun to which we will return again soon.
Now it is back to business with the race season upon us and our attention must turn to refining the progress made this winter. Those few injuries aside, the opening races have been going extremely well and we appear set for a great season ahead. Please keep up the good work and remain conscious of how your body is working and recovering at all times.