A training plan is a collection of workouts arranged in a particular order to elicit physiological changes. These improve an athlete’s fitness so they can achieve their goals, but it’s better to think of a training plan as a story.
Your job as a training plan author is to not just provide the athletes with workouts – it’s to engage, entertain and inform. The best (and best selling) training plans make the athlete feel like the coach is along with them while they train. You can create that story for the athlete by adding extra value to the workouts, weeks and guides in your training plan.
Make Workout Titles Engaging
When an athlete sees their workout for the day, the first thing they see is the title of the workout. You want to make it informative, of course, but you also want to make it entertaining. For example, you create a workout with a title for a long ride that’s called ‘4 hours Z2’, or you could write the title as ‘4hrs Z2 = 4 Krispy Kremes.’ It’s the same workout, but which one would you rather do?
Use the Structured Workout Builder
If you build Structured Workouts, buyers can export them to use on virtual training platforms. This is important for the long indoor season and for periods when athletes can’t train outside easily. These workouts will automatically adjust to fit different athletes of varying abilities and will even adjust as the athletes’ abilities change.
While the Structured Workout Builder automatically generates some written instructions from the interval blocks you create, remember to write out the description of the workout in the workout description text box. Don’t reproduce the same dry text of the Structured Workout Builder. Instead, add specific tips for different parts of the workout using your voice and point out the purpose of the workout to the athlete. The athlete will hear your voice in the workout.
Add Value by Personalization
You could add a funny story about your experience with the workout, or maybe add a sentence or two about your nutritional recommendations, or even provide a piece of psychological advice. Using the pre-activity comment section makes the workout feel personalized to the athlete.
Beyond adding extra value to your workouts, coaches have another opportunity to enhance their training plan by adding additional details to each week. Incorporating these tips grows the narrative of your training plan and makes the athlete feel like you’re right by their side.
Add callouts to a custom workout at the beginning of the week, summarizing the point of the week, clarifying what workouts they should pay special attention to, and give them an ‘attaboy!’ for their completion of the past week. This callout simulates the weekly check-in process that’s common in full coaching.
Add supplemental/supporting recovery or mobility workouts throughout the week beyond their primary training session. For example, many athletes neglect the short but crucial mobility or strength sessions that collectively injury-proof them through the course of their training. Adding a steady regimen of strength or mobility work will improve the quality of their training and add more value then they thought they were buying.
Consider adding psychological notes throughout the week. Just like with full coaching, this keeps your coaching voice front and center and can provide the athlete a strong boost before a challenging dose of training. For example, adding a custom workout with a note to focus on sleep, or “to eat for the next day (not today,)” and a word of encouragement before a challenging three-day weekend block can make all the difference to the athlete’s success.
Equipment callouts throughout the week demonstrate your command of the training plan build and show the athlete how much you’ve thought of things before they have. For example, adding ‘Make sure your bike isn’t broken’ two weeks before the athlete’s event might seem self-evident, but coaches all know athletes who show up to the race with barely-functional equipment.
Bonus: add a custom workout to every day of the week with a story or link to a training tip of some kind. I don’t recommend this for every training plan – it’s time-consuming and has the potential to clutter the TrainingPeaks calendar – but if you have the time or desire, this added touch can increase athlete engagement. They might look forward to the story or tip as much as they do the workout!
Serve Up Transparent Communication
A much overlooked but critical piece to a quality training plan is to write and clearly surface a clear training plan guide for the athlete. You don’t need to write an e-book, but you should create a concise document outlining the basics of how to follow your training plan, relevant explanations for terminology you use, and anything else you can think of that will answer common questions and make plan execution straightforward. Once you’re done, it’s best practice to attach the document (.pdf, .doc, etc) to the paper clip of a custom workout on the first day of the training plan.
Finally, consider providing an email or contact point so an athlete can reach out to you with questions. You should anticipate a few questions at minimum, so it’s important to make yourself available so they feel good about their purchase. Consider offering a $50 consultation fee to meet with the athlete (a phone call or video chat works well) to customize the plan to the athlete to the athlete’s schedule.
Don’t underestimate the value of athletes asking questions about your training plans. Questions often lead to conversation, which may result in lead full-time coaching. You never know when a training plan purchaser will turn into a five-year athlete-coach relationship.
With a little extra work, your training plans can grow beyond a pattern of workouts to an engaging, fun, effective training story that showcases your brand. Not only will athletes enjoy your training plans more, but you’ll also look forward to writing them!