Planning, Scheduling and Tracking Workouts to Attain Your Goals
Coach Luke Humphrey discusses the many factors that go into planning a training segment along with the importance of keeping a training log.
At Hanson's Coaching Services, we've been coaching athletes online since 2006. I this span of time, we have grown to allow for 8 coaches to be working with 20-25 athletes apiece. Needless to say, in order for us to maintain efficiency, but keep individual attention, we needed a great schedule delivery platform. A platform like Final Surge is the perfect solution, whether you're an individual or a coach working with dozens of athletes. Let's show you some the things we do when putting an athlete's plan together.
Start big and work small
What I mean is start with your big picture goal. Let's say it is to qualify for Boston, and you know you will need a couple training segments to get there. Say it's a two year goal for you. Now, let's work back from there and figure out what steps will need to be taken to get there. If you need to run a 3:30 marathon to qualify but you have only run 4:00 in the marathon. What we need to do is look at all your training factors and determine a two to three marathon progression over the time frame we have. As a coach using a platform like Final Surge, I'd make note of everything in my athlete's notes so that I can always go back and reference where we are coming from and where we need to go. In this instance I would start with the "big picture" goal and work back step by step to where we are starting from for the very next race.
Understand the goal of the current training segment
This is critical for the big picture to become a reality. In your mind you might think you are a 3:30 marathoner, and you may, just not this training segment. By understanding that you have to reach intermediate goals in order to make forward progress towards your long term goal, you may actually shorten the path to that long term goal. I see so many runners continually make the same mistakes in training or racing end up in a stalemate. For me, when I write a schedule, I start with using my library of workouts broken up by what we are trying to accomplish. So, I'll start with figuring out the races that are going to be run and put them in the calendar. Then work in what key workouts you should be able to hit by a certain time. I usually start with the long runs, because they will be influenced by the race(s) and the overall mileage that the runner should be at. From there I will work in the workouts that are needed to be supportive of the training segment goal. Finally, I will then fill all the remaining running days with the necessary easy mileage.
I know that may sound terribly time consuming, and it used to be. The beauty of a solid training log/coaching platform is that with workout libraries, you can drop drag any workout you've saved to the libraries and always have it. Then it's a matter of finding the set of workouts that you need to meet your needs and drop them in to the desired dates you need them. Another trick I will use is to set my calendar view to 12 weeks back from the goal race. That way I can see most, if not all, of the athlete's training segment and can make sure everything is in the right place. Another great feature that allows me to see big chunks of time and plan for the athlete's needs much more effectively.
Stick to a plan but be flexible
Despite the best planning, life happens. Sometimes your kid has a ball game. You get sick. A million things can happen. Something I always try to enforce to my busiest of athletes, "Something is better than nothing." What I mean is, even if you don't have time for that big tempo run today, don't just write it off as an off day. Instead, if you can squeeze a half hour easy run in, then do it! It will still help you gain a bit of fitness. From there, take a look at your scheduled training and make adjustments where you can. In this case, you might be able to combine your big tempo with a long run and get a double coupon. It's not a perfect fix, but it minimizes the damage. By having that plan mapped out it's as easy as dragging days around, making deletions, and moving forward.
Keep a record
This one is on the athlete. It will not only help your coach, but yourself keep track and analyze your training. We all compare current workouts to past workouts. At the time of writing this, many of my athletes are complaining that workouts are slower than they were six months ago. Well, for the last two weeks it has been in the high 80's with high humidity. When they were training for spring marathons the temps were half that! So, having all of those details accounted for in your training log can show you where you are really at in comparison. Another use for both coach and athlete is to observe trends in training. If an athlete is having a hard time recovering from workouts and performance begins to suffer, then having details to help sort out the cause(s) is crucial to saving a training segment. Having details allows for both comforting of unreasonable anxiety, as well as giving you the data needed to make adjustments before it's too late.
There you have it, some great ways to help yourself make the most your training with the help of a great planning and logging tool like Final Surge. It's helped us maintain a very high level of quality, efficiency, and individualization with all of our athletes.