It’s kind of strange that with the weather starting to warm up over the last week or 2 that I’m spending most of my time on or around snow. After 2 weeks in France on holiday with my skis and snowboards (where it was actually warmer than in England, cue the face tan), I’m heading to Meribel this week to catch the British ski Championships and see how a number of the athletes I work with get on in the competition.
I enjoy watching sport live and often it’s not until you do that you can fully appreciate it’s demands and the skills and abilities of the athletes that compete. You always learn a lot through observation and how athlete’s react to certain situations can be useful when it comes to coaching. Sport is always more enjoyable when you have some vested interest and I can assure that my voice will be heard on the hill shouting for those I’m working with out of the start gate.
It is also going to be an opportunity to meet with technical coaches, other support staff, athletes and parents to review the season so far and start to plan the pre-season schedule, aims and objectives. It’s not very often that everyone is able to be in the same place at the same time so making the most of that time is important, hence why I won’t, unfortunately, have my skis with me on this occasion.
I know it’s important but i find goal setting can be a bit of a chore. Long and short term goals, process and outcome goals, coaching, training and business goals, goal evaluation…it’s a lot to think about and to structure, and, to be honest it isn’t particularly exciting for me. I think that can be to do with not only the time it takes to do but to work through the goals.
No matter how many short term goals you put in along the way, you’ve always got that big one, the long termer sat off in the distance somewhere that you’re focused on and can’t get out of your mind. It always seems a long way off and sometimes you question how worthwhile it is. Short term goals are like reaching Everest basecamp (I imagine, I’ve not actually been there myself but I’m trying to make a point) then looking up to see the summit and thinking that actually there’s still quite a lot of climbing to go.
However, when you get there it’s pretty special. I’m closing in on a big one at the moment and can feel the excitement a couple of weeks out from it after nearly 2 years in the making and looking back can see how all those smaller goals along the way have gotten me here. I guess in summary: Goal setting – bit of a faff, but definitely worth it.
Loosely speaking, a training program consists of 2 parts, training and recovery. What happens during one aspect has an impact of the other. More and/or higher intensity training will require more and/or better recovery. Obviously this is a very simplified statement and variations exist depending on training aims and training periodisation (functional overreaching periods spring to mind).
Most coaches will closely measure training volumes, volume loads, frequencies etc but it is also necessary to track recovery. It’s not always easy. What do you measure? Physiological markers are useful but not always practical or practicable and aren’t really usable in isolation. Recovery is a mix of physiological and psychological parameters the relationship between which isn’t fully understood and, as with training, will be specific to each individual. There are a massive amount of physiological, psychological and performance measures that can be taken, what you have to identify is which of those is useful to you as there is no point measuring for measuring’s sake.
As part of this monitoring I like to use short questionnaires to get some quantitative scores on an ongoing basis. The REST-Q is a fairly long questionnaire but is quite useful to use periodically around competitions or more focused training bouts to gain an in depth understanding of the athlete’s response to the preparation throughout that period. It has a smaller brother though too, the recovery-cue. It comprises 7 questions with multiple choice answers that can be used weekly to help ascertain the effect of the previous week’s training and recovery. This is one method that I find useful, particularly when the athlete is abroad in order to gain more insight into the impact of training and to ensure adequate recovery is being taken. Understanding the recovery response of the athlete to training is integral to ongoing program design and it is important to have a method that works for both the coach and athlete.