On Writing Workouts

During all of my various coaching certification clinics the discussion around the creation of workouts was covered in detail. The main points of interest?

  • Specificity
  • Energy systems
  • Athlete understanding of goals of workout

Of course the importance of a good warm up, cool down, and dynamic stretching, was covered as well.

Let me clarify: Did we cover 'everything' in granular detail? No. You can't cover everything in a weekend-long clinic. You need to continue your education beyond the initial course. But, all that said, the three points above have been resonating with me lately. Why?

I'm seeing too many triathlon coaches prescribe workouts that have no specifics around energy systems, and no way for the athlete to know what the goal of the workout is. In some cases guaranteeing that the athlete do nothing but train their body to run long and slow on race day. A couple of examples that I've seen (posted online) lately:

  • A one hour run at conversational pace. Is this a recovery run? That's the way it reads, and that's great if it is. But conversational pace could be low aerobic to mid aerobic for some individuals. No target HR zones to ensure specificity. Not even a mention of target pacing. I'm not sure what the goal here is.
  • A swim workout where the main set efforts are all on :20 rest. There's no way to ensure the intensity and pace is maintained throughout the workout here. You can't prescribe a swim workout without a hard send-off as there's no way to ensure you're working the proper energy systems. And a speed / VO2 workout (max efforts) on :20 rest isn't a swimming speed set. That will turn into a threshold set. Maybe. 

Yes, I'm on my soapbox lecturing. Kind of.

Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox.

I was up there in the first place because if we - as coaches - don't ensure we're providing a quality product and helping our athletes improve we're no better than a static plan that can be downloaded off the web.

It's our duty as coaches to prescribe workouts that engage the energy systems required to create improvements in our athletes. To do so you need to be specific in that prescription. Know the HR or output zones of your athlete for recovery through VO2 efforts - for all disciplines. Know the base 100 time of your athletes in the pool so you can write workouts with the proper work-rest ratio to work the appropriate energy systems. And equally as important, your athlete needs to understand this information as well. Work with them so they know what they're doing, why they're doing it, and what the goal of the workout is and what you're trying to remediate. 

Not sure how to go about that? I understand that not everything is covered during some coaching clinics. But the information is out there. Reach out to me and I'll get you on the right track. 

Want a free PDF on my three critical aspects to swimming training. Click here: eepurl.com/9PFZX