When completing my “lessons learned” or kick-off sessions with retained or incoming squad members, I try to highlight what tends to be the difference between a breakthrough season versus an average one for an athlete. For me it usually comes down to what I like to call the 3 C’s.
The first C is for Communication between the coach and athlete. This starts from the outset when kicking things off. Openly review and establish your strengths, weaknesses and goals with your coach for the upcoming season. This clear communication has to be continuous, with high-quality information captured via TrainingPeaks and/or an agreed-upon communication channel. This allows your coach to course-correct throughout the season.
- Be bold in setting goals but also open to open dialogue on what is achievable in your timeframe.
- Be disciplined in terms of uploading your data to TrainingPeaks.
- Leave comments that will help your Coach zero in on a problem and fix/adjust. For example: “Legs heavy after S&C for this tempo run, maybe too soon to get best out of me?”
There is nothing more frustrating for an athlete or coach than building a plan on unreasonable assumptions, as it usually results in a lot of red workouts and last minute changes. Instead, take some time to think about the constraints around your training, which could include time, equipment, and other commitments. A good coach will be able to help you work around these challenges to help you get the most out of what you have available—but first they need to know what those constraints are!
- Be realistic about the time you have to train at the start.
- Expect a certain amount of teething problems/tweaking in the first few blocks until you and your coach find the optimal routine.
- Add in ad-hoc training constraints, like travel or family obligations, to your TrainingPeaks calendar as early as possible so your coach can adjust the block accordingly. I get my squad to use the “other” workout icon, noting what the constraint is and whether they can swim/bike/run or not.
The athletes who achieve or surpass their goals are the ones who consistently follow their plan, and tick the boxes of each workout to the best of their abilities. Again, this only happens with good communication, which allows the coach push/pull back workouts to create a realistic plan and get the most out of the athlete. It’s also important to stay consistently focused on your personal goals, rather than getting distracted by your neighbor/rival/friend on the start line.
- Agree with your coach on key sessions during any week so you can prioritize these sessions. Consistency does not always mean a 100% completion rate—sometimes you have to settle with nailing the key sessions.
- Write down your goals somewhere prominent and always use these to re-focus yourself.
As you can see all of the C’s are clearly intertwined and somewhat sequential in nature. If you want to maximize what you and your coach can achieve this season, just remember it’s as simple as Communication, Constraints and Consistency.