Monday, July 1, 2013

Allowing for Flexibility within a Structured Training Plan


One of my biggest challenges as a coach is to help athletes trust in their gut instincts of backing off if their body is telling them it’s tired or feeling off.  THIS, in my experience, is the biggest hurdle for highly motivated athletes to clear.  Sticking with the training plan is not the issue, however veering off it slightly and allowing for flexibility can be difficult. Certainly injury, chronic fatigue and potential burnout can be prevented just by listening to that inner voice which says, “I think I need to rest more today.”  That inner voice often will send an SOS signal calling for either a brief physical or mental break. Many athletes ignore these signs and feel that they must, under any circumstance, stick with the plan.  Most surround themselves with other athletes in training and feel pressure to keep up with the workouts, or feel guilty about missing a workout.  I often do my best, when reading athlete logs, to try and pull out those red flags and make adjustments. Often times, I’m pulling the reigns BACK on athletes, suggesting a workout option that is more playful and in line with active rest.  Athletes need to understand and trust that it’s OKAY to back off.  Listening to that inner voice and allowing for that flexibility can mean the difference between having a full, fun season of racing and training versus sitting on the sidelines with an injury.  Often times, the best barometer of feedback is not in watts, heart rate data or fancy graphs. Some of the best feedback comes from our gut instincts.  Finding the joy in training and being opening more flexibility in a training regimen is just as important as all the hard interval work or getting in the volume.



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