News Letter November 2012
Hello and welcome to my Newsletter for November 2012.
If you are anything like me, being competitive means that you are always looking for ways to improve your sporting performance. There are many ways to do this and given that we are all honest folk, we are mostly (!) interested in the legal and ligitimate modes of training.
We only need to do a google search to see how many different methods, ideas, and approaches there are to training, so for this News letter I would like to share with you what I see as being the top three barriers to developing performance. This is based on my experience of training & coaching athletes and what we find as each joint venture moves forward. The top three barriers are:
1 - poor understanding of what training is,
2 - lack of consistency, and
3 - Recovery.
What is training?
I could write an entire book trying to outline and justify the exact definition of "Training", [which is not what I want to do for this Newsletter], but to keep things simple I would like to offer some key characteristics that are generally accepted as being relevant: Purposeful, Specific, Overload, Recovery.
As an athlete its important to at least understand these characteristics because it will help you implement the training programme that your coach has so carefully written.
The weekly plan that I provide to my athletes is really just a list of stuff that needs doing for that week. Its rare that someone is able to follow it exactly [from day to day] without tweeking so its important that they can identify the different elements (LSD, volume, speed, strength & conditioning, etc) their purpose and how they interact so that they can re-schedule activities as the week unfolds.
For many of my athletes it's only when they get home from work that they know how much time they have available for training that day. Unless I am there at the exact moment, it is they who will need to make the tweeks and select an activity from the "list of stuff" that I have provided. The best and most appropriate selection can only be made if they have a good understanding of the "what's & why's" of training. 
This is what they will be asking:
Q. what is the purpose of each activity?
Q. why and what does the activity specifically involve?
Q. what sort of overload will it induce?
Q. How much recovery will it need?
If you have written your own training plan, you should also be able to answer these questions, and from this you will be able to rehash/reschedule your plan as the week unfolds. Notice that there is nothing about personal preferrence, or what's your favourite activity? Following personal preferrence will often conflict with the other key criteria and lead to an imbalance (and a barrier) in your training. More on this later.
At the end of the week the athlete will feedback to me what has been achieved so that I can review and revise a plan for the next week. The athlete must be truthful in their feedback because anything that was not achieved during that week MUST be carried over rather than dropped (unless there is injury). This is where most people go wrong and is the next big barrier to developing performance.
Lack of consistency.
Given that each planned activity should have purpose, if it's dropped without being carried over, you will be putting a hole in your training plan. If you are willing to drop an activity, you need to ask why was it planned in the first place.
To be most effective, a training plan needs to be consistent and progressive in its overload, whether that's distance, duration, repetition, load, etc. Put simply, any unplanned holes will reduce this effectiveness and leave you with a collection of stand alone activities.
As a general rule, expect to spend around 4-6 weeks on each planned activity before reviewing progress. Most un-coached athletes do not follow a structured and purposeful training plan and show little consistency from one week to the next. They may work very hard during individual workouts but then devalue them by not linking workouts or following through from one week to the next.
The third big barrier to developing performance is something that will have most athletes shouting in denial or (excuse the pun) running for cover. The issue of Recovery, or as it's more accurately known, Under-Recovery, is something that is almost universally mis-understood by athletes [all abilities] and is such a huge topic that it will be the focus of my next NewsLetter (Barriers part 2).

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Happy Training!


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