I love how much wonderful training information there is to be found online. As amazing as this free flow of information is, it can also be incredibly confusing for many, especially where a lot of it seems contradictory. It seems like I spend a significant amount of my coaching time with an athlete discussing things they have read online or heard from someone else. As a coach who loves educating other people, I love these discussions when they lead to positive outcomes. However, I often find that many athletes become overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, and defensive when they receive so many different opinions and information on the “best” way to train.
As an educator and sympathetic coach, I’d like to attempt to provide 5 things to keep in mind to help you wade through the endless rabbit hole of “training advice.”
1. Target Audience & Purpose – I find that there are certain topics where this is really a problem, like technique, training volume/intensity, and nutrition. I’ve had many conversations with beginners who think you have to train 20+ hours/week or run 3 marathons as training for an Ironman. Ask yourself, for whom was this article written and why? A first timer, someone with a specific issue? While it may not always be clear (especially the target audience), many articles will not apply to you in the here and now and should be set aside for another time.
2. Specificity & Consistency – The rule of specificity states that for specific results you must practice/train the skill you wish to develop. If you constantly change your workouts based on the “latest and greatest” you will get random results. Consistency to a program is the best method to see progress over time. If you’re already using a program – my best advice is to see it through and be patient, there is a greater chance of you seeing results with consistency than you will with jumping around from program to program or workout to workout.
3. The Art of Training – “Art” refers to the adaptation of scientific and performance principles to fit the unique needs of the athlete. It does NOT mean unorganized, random, or spontaneous. So while there is a lot of liberty in setting up a successful plan, most of these manipulations should be well thought out and decided upon in the pre-season and those added in during your regular training session should be done with great care. My best recommendation is to take those ideas that interest you and 1. discuss it with your coach, or 2. file it away for later.
4. Periodization – Periodization should be a word you’ve heard before. The best way to explain it is with the old adage “there is a time for every needful thing.” It’s literally phase training – or focusing on one or two things at time at different phases in your training program. Assuming you’re using periodization in your training (and you should be) timing is incredibly crucial in implementing new skills, workouts, etc into your plan. A good question to ask yourself or your coach: “does this piece of advice support my goals for this phase of training?” and “what would I be giving up or changing in order to adapt to this specific piece of information?”
5. Build a Relationship with a Coach You Trust – Once you’ve been working with a coach for a while, they can help you understand how and if the different advice applies to you. When I know an athlete; their psychology, goals, fitness levels, etc., the discussions we have are amazing and mutually beneficial. Even if you don’t work with a coach on a regular basis, ask them what their rate is for their time and knowledge. Most coaches will gladly sit down with you for an hour or so to help answer your questions.
Thanks for reading and happy training!
Coach Becky Black,
IRONMAN Certified Coach
USAT LIIE Certified Coach
M.S. in Exercise Science
Please reach out to me with any questions or to inquire about training: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find my coaching bio at http://www.pbmcoaching.com/coaches/