Before I jump into this latest blog I would first of all like to thank our 2 fantastic squad sponsors:
Their support is integral to the success of my amazing squad.
One thing I have learned from coaching all sorts of different athletes to perform at their best is that there isn’t one way that works for every individual and there’s a lot more “grey” than black and white to guide us in the right direction. If coaching and athletic performance was a precise science, then it would be easy to give each athlete a road map and let them get on with it. In reality that path is littered with an infinite number of decisions that have to be made quite often with little more than experience and a gut feel to guide us. It’s the accumulation of all those small decisions that add up to determine if we continue upwards towards our best or instead plateau or even decline.
One area that I know many coaches and athletes struggle with is having to compromise between training that is fun and enjoyable and training that is the most effective.
“Champions do what they need to do rather than what they want to do”
Although training has to be enjoyed in an overall sense to make sure an athlete is engaged and motivated, it stands to reason that the training needed to get us to our best has to include sessions that we don’t necessarily see as fun or enjoyable. After all, if we could reach our best just by doing things we enjoyed everyone would make that journey with little effort whereas we know that getting to your best takes a great deal of sacrifice, focus and dedication.
The approach I take in this area is to periodise this as much as I periodise the physiological aspects of training. So during the base period which is a long way off from key races it makes sense to allow athletes to try different sessions that are more varied and usually a bit more fun. As we get closer to key races then it makes sense to start shifting the focus onto key sessions that will have the most impact on race day performance and quite often these may not be as much fun. An example of this is taking part in social and group rides during the base period but as we get closer to key races switching these for tough Time Trial simulations on our own. These are challenging and less fun but necessary to prepare us for race day.
Does this approach mean that an athlete misses out on enjoyment and has to lead a lonely monk like existence? I would say of course not because balance has to be present in the plan with key sessions balanced with a few fun sessions and getting that balance right is one of the key benefits of working with a coach. More importantly when an athlete gets close to their athletic potential that feeling itself provides a sense of fun and enjoyment way beyond anything else – why not commit and give it a try I know you won’t regret it.