MY COACHING COMMANDMENTS
The process of training an endurance athlete is far too complex for me to express on a single web page. Every athlete is different so needs to be treated on an individual basis. Nevertheless, please find below some of the general guidelines that I follow with every athlete that I train. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives you a basic overview of how I approach training my athletes.
1: ALWAYS TRAIN EVERYTHING
No training stimulus works in isolation. There is a significant overlap between the adaptations you receive from two seemingly opposing stimuli. There is a spectrum of intensity, there is a spectrum of adaptations. There is no single magic intensity to focus on, and there are no grey zones to completely avoid. Every intensity blends into the next one. Everything must be trained. To achieve high performance, there can be no weak links in the chain.
2: CAPACITY BEFORE POWER
Your sustainable Aerobic Power/Pace will always be limited by your Aerobic Capacity, which in turn will be limited by your Anaerobic Capacity. Therefore, it is essential to develop your capacities to a sufficient level, prior to developing the fraction of these capacities that can be maintained over a set duration. It is vital to note however, that although a high Aerobic Capacity is always beneficial - if you over-develop your Anaerobic Capacity, this will actually inhibit your sustainable Aerobic Power/Pace - so an appropriate balance must be achieved.
3: DEVELOP & MAINTAIN
It is far easier to maintain a high level of fitness, than it is to develop it. So once a level of fitness has been developed, it must be maintained. The goal of training is to build upon what has previously been achieved, not to rebuild what has been neglected.
4: CONTINUAL PROGRESSION
Training is about applying a large enough stimulus to create a positive adaptation. If the same stimulus is applied over and over again, the body will respond less and less each time. Therefore, when we are trying to develop a certain area of performance, it is paramount that we progress the stimulus to ensure continual adaptation. This applies not only from workout to workout, but also from season to season, as an athletic career progresses.
5: MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE
To enable longevity in a career progression, we must seek to apply only the minimum effective dose with every stimulus. If we consistently apply a larger stimulus than is required to see a positive adaptation, we will reach our tolerable limit of training density, much sooner than we had to. When we hit the top limit of volume and intensity that we can thrive upon - we no longer have scope for continual progress.
6: SPECIFIC DEMANDS
Although human energy systems interact dynamically with one another, the relative strengths of your Anaerobic and Aerobic energy systems, need to be balanced appropriately to meet the specific demands of a race. The exact balance depends not only upon the race duration and potential race tactics, but also on how these factors relate to the athlete’s individual characteristics.
7: KEEP WORKOUTS SIMPLE
Perfect execution of even the most basic of workouts is difficult. Keep workout structure simple to facilitate excellence in execution. The goal is to ‘train’ you - not to ‘entertain’ you.
8: CONSISTENT CYCLE STRUCTURE
Establishing a fixed achievable rhythm to your regular training cycle, where key workouts and recovery are both scheduled appropriately to encourage high performance, vastly increases the probability of you being able to execute each session as intended. No athlete has a perfect record of workout compliance, but the more consistent you are, the greater your potential for success.
9: TRAINING IS ONLY A PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
Acknowledge that training load is only a fraction of the high performance equation. No workout occurs in isolation, it is surrounded by the ‘total load’ that an athlete is under. Recovery status, mental stress, sleep habits and diet - all contribute significantly to how positively an athlete will respond to their training.
A successful athlete-coach relationship can only develop through clear and meaningful two-way communication. Assume nothing, clarify everything, confirm understanding.