Training plans are an excellent opportunity for coaches to reach more athletes with expert instruction that showcases their coaching business. They can also seem daunting to build. Here’s how:
Instead of building the training plan directly in a blank training plan, build the plan first in a dummy athlete account so you can use the Annual Training Plan functionality for periodization. Later, you’ll use the dual calendar functionality to copy and paste the workouts you created from the dummy athlete to the training plan you publish. Please note, if you have a well-developed plan for a real athlete from a previous season you want to convert to a training plan, you can copy and paste the athlete’s workouts directly into a new training plan using the dual calendar. You can also modify the workouts so they’re generalizable and skip the publishing section of this article.
To create a ‘dummy athlete’, first click the ‘+’ button in your athlete library and then follow the ‘create an athlete workflow.’ Once completed, your dummy athlete will appear in your athlete library. Now you’re ready to build your plan.
Building a Training Plan
Create an Annual Training Plan in the dummy athlete account. An Annual Training Plan (ATP) periodizes athletes’ training toward a goal event – it’s an outline, telling them how to train, and when. It’s important to have an outline of different training phases so you know what workouts to plan, each week. See the article linked above for specifics on building an ATP in TrainingPeaks.
Once completed, navigate back to the dummy athlete calendar. The ATP period summaries display in the weekly summary. Now you know what phase of training you’re in and can plan workouts.
The key question of when to start scheduling workouts in the dummy calendar depends on what phase of training you’re targeting. Broadly, there’s the base, build and taper mesophases (multiple training weeks with a particular target). For the purposes of this article, I’m using Joe Friel’s periodization terminology – you’re welcome, of course, to use your own.
Once you’ve decided what phase you’re targeting, establish the length of the plan. The length of plans in the TrainingPeaks training plans store vary, but they are usually at least six weeks long.
Quick tip – write your plan from base to taper in the dummy athlete account. You can then sell four plans – a base plan, a build plan, a taper plan, and a complete plan that incorporates each block of training.
Adding Plan Content
Let’s move on to writing the plan itself. Your first week in any plan should be a testing week so the athlete can figure out their zones and establish benchmark thresholds to measure improvement later. This is crucial to the athletes’ success so that every workout after testing creates training stress in the way you intended. Further, when they test again, it will answer the question that all athletes ask: Am I getting faster?”
Now, build the workouts in your weeks. Workouts should reflect the phase of the plan, e.g. if it’s a base plan, every workout should not be Tabatas or crazy VO2 max intervals. Remember the outline you created with the ATP appears in the weekly summary for easy reference.
Schedule the key workouts of the week first, e.g. a long endurance day on the weekend, interval days, strength days & rest days. For the remaining time slots, make those workouts pertinent to the phase/potential limiters.
Quick tip: make all workouts structured workouts. They sell better, they upload to devices and they’re easier for athletes to understand.
Here’s a bonus tip – use your workout library! Create different workout folders organized by the ATP period. Once you’ve created a workout once, (with the Structured Workout Builder, ideally) all you need to do to use the workout again is find the workout folder where you’ve saved it and drag and drop it into your training plan. Your efficiency will sky-rocket. For a more in-depth take on planning your weeks see this article.
You’ve finished writing all your workouts but you’re not done yet – you have to build your training plan guide.
Creating a Training Plan Guide
As a coach, it’s easy to forget that many prospective buyers do not understand training terminology like ‘Z2’ or ‘threshold.’ Put together a guide that anticipates questions about your plan. It’s helpful to imagine that the training plan purchaser is learning to train for the first time. Create the guide in some sort of document (e.g. .pdf, .doc) and attach it to a custom workout on the first day of the training plan using the paper clip.
Publishing Your Plan
Once that’s finished, it’s time to publish your plan. Click the gear icon on your plan and fill out the ‘Summary’ section. Whatever you write here will appear in the TrainingPeaks training plan store. Describe the plan to the prospective buyer – put some effort into it. This is partly where you’re selling to prospective buyers.
Set the plan category. Select a sport, category, and plan specs. Make sure to choose one, and only one of the following categories under plan specs – ‘Beginner’, ‘Intermediate’, or ‘Advanced.’ Your choice here makes a difference in how your plan surfaces in the TrainingPeaks training plans store. For more on this topic, read here.
Set your training plan price. To get a feel for how to price your plan, search in the TrainingPeaks training plan store and search for a plan of similar length and experience level.
Lastly, publish your plan by clicking the gear icon on the training plan, then clicking the ‘Publish Plan’ tab on the left of the pop-up window. Check where you want to publish your training plans – you can choose between the TrainingPeaks training plan store, a private URL to which you can direct traffic from your website, or both.
Before you publish, take an hour or two for mental space between you and your work and then double-check everything. Check your workouts for clarity and consistency, comb through looking for spelling or grammatical errors, make sure you’ve attached your training plan guide, and make sure the price and training plan copy makes sense. Professionalism shows in the details.
Congratulations! You’ve published your first training plan! I’m sure that took a while – but don’t let that discourage you. The most time-consuming part of the training plan process is building your first plan. Once you’ve built one, you can build others much faster.
It’s a worthwhile investment of your time. Not only have you entered your work into a new marketplace, but you’ve also developed an excellent marketing tool that can lead to new athlete leads down the line.