Strength Performance Network

It was great workout! Yes it was now what? The workout is not an end unto itself. You can do a great workout and end up really hurting, really feel the burn, but does make it a great workout? Did you win the workout? Will you be able to come back tomorrow and train? Doing the workout and leaving totally knackered is not the same as winning the workout. The workout is piece in a giant jigsaw puzzle. It must be carefully placed in context of the other workouts in that microcyle and of course the whole plan.

In my career I have seen great athletes perform unreal workouts. Early in my coaching career I watched Bill Toomey then the world record holder in the decathlon and 1968 Gold medalist run 3 x 200 in 21.6, 21.2 and 20.8 on a soft dirt track! Not long after that I remember watching Marcello Fiasconaro, a South African/Italian 800 meter runner and 800 meter world record holder run 2 x 330 on the old hard Stanford stadium track in 32.1 and 31.8? Both of the workouts were with full recovery, I mean full recovery, in Toomeys case 15 minutes in Fiaconaro's case almost twenty five minutes.  Amazing workouts, but what did they mean. They were veteran athletes’ at the top of their game but of course as a young enthusiastic coach as I watched those workouts I thought that was what you had to do so I tried to imitate them. Not for long. It was a hard lesson in context. They had an accumulation of years of training. I was coaching young athletes at the start of their career. Those workouts were only a snapshot of a whole training year and in Toomey’s case a career.

So what does all this mean? Be mindful of the process, one workout cannot make an athlete, but one workout can surely break an athlete. Focus on the process; make sure the workout is placed in the context of the whole training plan. Make sure you know who you are coaching and design the workout so it is appropriate for their level of development. Don’t copy what elite athletes are doing! If you see a workout and you don’t know why they are doing what they are doing file the data in the curiosity file. Monkey see, monkey do will get your athletes hurt not better.

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