Evolving and learning as a coach is always at the top of my priority list and this past while has been no different. Lately I have embarked on a new journey to coach kids 18 years old and under; I have been accumulating certifications and learning from multiple institutions and so much more. What I really didn’t expect was to learn so much from an athlete about personality and how that influences their interpretation of training protocol.

As a long-time athlete and coach, I have very good body awareness and ability to self-regulate training volume and intensity. What I was not aware of is how influential personality, goals, data, and numbers can be on an athlete’s voice of reason or ability to make the call on their own. Dealing with master level athletes, this is a key component to explore because they are paying for your service and extremely driven and dedicated to the process.

To hear an athlete ask the question, “should I have taken the night off of intervals? I had 3 hours of sleep, an airplane travel day and felt really sluggish.” This to me was shocking, but a reality for so many athletes. When athletes ignore PLE or RPE and are simply following the plan, they are missing out on a key factor that makes athletes great. That factor is a voice of reason and it can help a good athlete become amazing. By simply resting and recovering today to be able to make gains tomorrow is an agreement each individual has to be able to make on their own.

Athletes and coaches struggling to find that tipping point should ask themselves two key questions:

  1. Am I lacking motivation or am I really fatigued and run down? This separates two commonly mixed-up feelings and places perspective on how you are actually feeling and its correlation to that days’ training load.
  2. If I perform this workout today will I be making any gains? This question asks an athlete to do a self-assessment of their current state of body and mind. A distracted workout or ride on a trail can lead to possible crash or injury with longer-term consequences. Taking the time daily to do an assessment is key, and can mean shifting an interval session into an active recovery or skills session.

Result: Give yourself a permission slip to “opt out” and focus in on some other aspects of your training.

Taking this concept to a scientific level may be the next step for you as a coach or athlete. By using HRV (Daily Heart Rate Variability), an athlete can identify this and correlate it with numbers, but it doesn’t help the athlete develop greater body awareness or voice of reason unless correlated to PLE in the long term. In the short-term, it will bring more data and analytics to the table that can ultimately muddy the waters.
Once again, I look at big data and today’s athletes and find the biggest gap a coach needs to fill sometimes is that of humility and voice of reason.

Happy training!