I have got a bit of positive feedback on the post from yesterday, so thanks for that. It was one of those posts that turned out better than expected, so I am quite happy with it.
Nothing quite so exciting as sporting controversy to write about today unfortunately.
What I thought I would write about today is a bit about program planning. A bit of a step sideways from yesterday I know, but there are some reasons why it is currently on my mind.
For much of my sporting career I have been surrounded by quite knowledgeable people, even some experts, people who understand physiology, how the body reacts to stress etc, all up it has been very educational. However, more recently, with coaching, I have had exposure to people with less experience and it has been enlightening to hear some of their views with regard to training and also to hear some of the misconceptions they have.
One of the main areas of misunderstanding that I have seen is in regard to program structure, in particular the sort of sessions required to successfully build an athlete up.
The most common mistake I think I see from uncoached athletes is the desire to always do hard sessions. Day in, day out, hard sessions full of short sharp intervals, even though a person might be training for an event that will take them over 5 hours. Similarly, always heading out for runs that leave them dead and buried running at high intensity even though they are training for long events that will be done at moderate intensity. None of these sessions are incorrect, however, the mistake that is usually done is that these sessions are done to the exclusion of all others.
One of the first things I try and get new athletes to learn is that every session has a point. Sometimes that point is going hard, but sometimes the point is to go easy, or go long, or even to go somewhere in between. Training successfully requires a mix of all these elements, because they are all doing different things to your body and all those things are necessary to get through a long triathlon successfully. In the bigger picture of building an athlete, doing an easy recovery session can be as beneficial as doing a killer threshold session.
As mild as the training that I do these days is, structure still exists. Monday is about recovery, Tuesday is a bit shorter and sharper, Wednesday is longer with a bit of intensity, the weekend is all about long and steady. Each day has a focus and higher intensity sessions are not stacked back to back. It doesn't need to be complicated, but when done properly it can be very effective.
A proper structure means that athletes not only build aerobic capacity, but also strength, resilience and fitness all in a sustainable way. Without training all areas of their physiology the athletes will either not reach their potential or will take a very long time to do so. Instead of this, adding a bit of educated structure to their training will help athletes to get efficiently get closer to their goals.
It is a small lesson, but it is probably one of the most important lessons that any triathlete can learn.