How to Sabotage Your Coached Workouts (Please don’t do this!)
When I decided to attempt an IRONMAN® distance triathlon, I decided I could not do it alone and without expert guidance. So, I was the first of the Skortaholics to hire a coach. I felt seriously ridiculous doing it — I mean coaches are for, like, professional athletes and stuff, not semi-old lawyers that (for some unknown reason) want to cover 140.6 miles in a triathlon in one day. But I got over it, and did it (sheer terror will do that to you). I hired the most scarily fit, nicest triathlon coach I knew, Coach Erin at Rocksport Training. And Coach Erin seriously rocks. She got me through Ironman® Louisville (you can read a bit about the here), and I discovered that having a coach is so valuable that I continue to hire her and now three other Skortaholics have hired her too!
In her Lake Logan post, Deborah said I should write a post about how good I am at following Coach Erin’s training instructions. OK, Deborah was being (extremely) sarcastic. My issue is more of how bad I am at following my Coach’s training instructions. In fact, I am so bad at it, I’m constantly joking with Erin that she is going to fire me! Thankfully, Coach Erin continues to put up with me. But from breaking the rules, I have also learned quite a bit. Yes, the hard way. But we triathletes can be stubborn, right? So, here goes: Three seemingly harmless ways you can not follow your Coach’s training instructions and hurt your training in the process.
1. Reporting Incorrect Workout Results
Most coaches have some kind of tracking system to see how you are doing with your training. Erin and I use Addaero (Training Peaks is another popular one). So, you’ve got a workout where you are supposed to do at least a million mile repeats at 5 minute miles (because that’s totally possible for me), and you end up running, say, 9 minute miles. But you don’t want your coach to think you are not fit, so you report back, say, 6 minute miles.
(I’d also include here, not providing your coach with any workout results.) This is a big no-no. I mean, how is your coach supposed to know whether you are progressing, know how to set goal paces, or determine if the workouts are hard enough, if she doesn’t have accurate feedback on how the workouts went? She can’t.
Now, actually, this is one thing I do NOT do. Regardless of whether I break some of the other rules, I am completely up front and honest about it. And I report my workout times as accurately as possible – including when I add them, when I only do part of them, and when I move them around — which brings me to the next no-no . . . .
2. Making Up Missed Workouts
Oh boy, oh boy do I struggle with this one. I mean, you give me a list of things to do, and I feel like I have to complete it. So, if that means making up Monday and Tuesday’s workouts on Wednesday, meaning I swim twice, run, and also bike in one day, then that’s totally OK right?
Nope. Not OK. Sooooo, apparently, at least I am told, this is super hard on your body and if you miss a workout, what you are supposed to do is check with your coach, determine if it is a key workout (whatever that is) and then if not, you just let it go. Let. It. Go. If it’s a key workout, your coach rejiggers your schedule and you do it another time. Seems so simple. So simple.
Not for me. I totally mess this one up all the time. Still. To this day. Despite all the lectures. I just can’t stand not to do the workouts. I mean, it’s like a checklist, and I have to complete the checklist. Otherwise, I will collapse during the race, right? Apparently no. What this means is that I end up tiring myself out and not having the quality of workouts I am supposed to. I know this. It’s stupid. Maybe someday I’ll learn. I have gotten slightly better about this, especially when I am sick. I’ll tell Erin how far behind I am, and she will rework my schedule. A tiny bit of progress? I’ll take it.
3. Changing Up the Order of your Workouts
This is the other one I am super bad about. So, your Coach gives you a week’s worth of workouts. Four runs, two swims, four bikes, something called a rest day (I mean, seriously, what IS that?), and an allowance for your weekly PiYo classes. And she takes all this time putting them in an order, even picking specific days for each workout, the type of workout (strength, distance, intervals). It’s beautiful.
And I trash it. I rearrange everything. Moving workouts to different days, in different combinations, and adding random things like extra swims, or another bike ride, because, well, biking is fun.
Apparently, this is uncool as well. As it turns out, your coach actually puts time and thought in to the sequence of your workouts, so that, say, you don’t follow a quad shredding hard interval set on the bike with a 10K pace run. She considers when you should take a break. She makes sure your body is ready for the requisite intensity. I mean, who knew?
So, you should follow the workouts, in order. I hate to say it, but this is my other big problem. I mean, well, life happens. You end up having to stay late at work, your swim time gets cut in half and you only have 30 minutes, not an hour and fifteen, and so you change that to the 30 minutes run scheduled later in the week, and move the swim to a day when all you have is a bike ride. Or, you just know there is a lot going on certain days of the upcoming week, and you shuffle the days around – Tuesday to Friday, Wednesday swaps for Thursday, etc. I promise, I do try to follow the well-thought out plan, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Best laid plans and all that.
The Moral of the Story
Listen to your coach. It’s what you pay for. She has been trained in this stuff. You aren’t, and there is a method to her madness. (Apparently!) What you should do, and what I am trying to do more often, is if there is an issue – your workouts are too hard, you aren’t hitting the paces, your week goes to hell in a hand basket – you should communicate with your coach (and not just my normal type of communication, which tends to be complaining about how much I don’t like the workouts, lol!), and she can create a schedule that remedies those challenges. Maybe someday, but until then, I need to go make up my swim workout from last Friday . . .
Coaches – what are your clients’ greatest sins?
If you have a coach, what things have you done to sabotage your training?