Sunday, November 25, 2007

I am not a cook so don’t ask me for recipes

I often get emails from athletes asking for training advice, which is something that obviously flatters me. But in most cases, what people are looking for is an easy to use guide for success. This is the case with most posts on Forums asking for training advice. After a brief background, a very broad question is asked. To that question, most people expect a set of guidelines, a complete program is preferred, for them to follow. They expect a recipe.

In this context, the one-size-fits-all coaches have the advantage. Even knowing very little about the athlete, they will tell you what to do. Do this and you will go fast. Factors like individual characteristics of the athlete, his/her background, period of the season, time available and many other relevant factors are not important. Do this and you will go fast.

Of course coaching is a little more complex than that. Effective coaching is not made of gross exagerations and stereotypes, but of focusing on the individual characteristics of an athlete and working within the individual constraints. I hear the expression “regular age-grouper” quite a lot. However, my experience with coaching age-groupers is that there isn’t such a thing as the “regular age-grouper”. They all have different jobs, different families. They have different commitment to training and different priorities. Stereotyping athletes does not serve the interests of the athletes, but it does serve the interests of some coaches… the cook book coaches. So what exactly is effective coaching? Effective coaching is the application of solid training principles and methods to the individual athlete. Is having an effective training program that is tailored to the specific athlete. It’s a lot about individualization.

I really enjoy discussing training. However, there isn’t a lot of people I enjoy discussing training with. Not because I am an elitist (I am not) or because I don’t like to talk to people (That might have some truth to it), but because not a lot of people are capable of discussing training concepts that can then be individualized to each athlete. Most discussions about training end up being discussions about workouts. Should I ride 5 hours or 6 hours? Should I do the 2x20? Should the long run be 2:30h or 3:00h? What about 400 repeats, should I do those? One pet peeve I have is when discussion training with a coach, the coach starts talking about his own training. I don’t want to hear about your training, I want to hear about what you use with your athletes as a whole. And the more athletes you coach, and the more successful they are, the more I’ll listen.

In the next few weeks I will try to write more about triathlon training and less about coaching. But just don’t ask me for recipes. I am not a cook.

9 comments:

Will said...

400 repeats is way too many. 8 - 12 would be plenty, perhaps as many as 25 if the reps are short.

Trevor M Syversen said...

So a good recipe for Rabanadas for Christmas is out of the question then? :-)

Judy said...

I can do recipes!! :-)

kickass katy said...

Great, now I'll never find out how to make bacalhau...

MarkyV said...

It’s a lot about individualization
+++Yea!!! :)

And when in the kitchen as well... I don't look at receipes. :) What's you addy? I just made a huge batch o'cookies. :)

Lauren said...

Watch out! Marky V didn't make ANY cookies; he made gluten-free/casein-free cookies!! He's trying to unload some on me, too. I'm getting suspicious...

BIGZACH said...

I am making "Awesomeness" can you give me a recipe?

Paulo Sousa said...

You have come to the right place, my business is to turn "dumbassedness" into "awesomeness" :-)

Chris said...

Amen...