The most common question I get on social media and in emails is something along the line of, “How should I train?” That’s certainly a valid question. And I appreciate the writer’s confidence in me to provide guidance. But there’s a problem with the question: It assumes I can tell anyone how to train based on very little information. The writer usually, but not always, tells me name, age, and perhaps sport (amazingly, not always). They seem to assume that there is a simple formula into which I can enter this info and – presto! – out the other end comes a training plan. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), it’s not that simple so I rarely am able to tell the writer anything about how to train. This includes which of my training plans they should buy on TrainingPeaks.com. The most common answer I give to these questions is some version of, “I don’t know.”
And it really doesn’t matter how much the athlete tells me. Some go into great depth about their training and racing history and even attach a race resume going back several years. But even that isn’t much help. As I often say in my reply, even if I was your coach it would certainly take me days if not weeks or months to get dialed in on how you should train. Even then I would still have a fair amount of doubt. The longer I coached the athlete, however, the more refined the training plan would become. That’s because there is something called individualization. This is a widely accepted principle of sport science which basically says that each athlete is unique in many ways. For starters, some realize improved fitness very quickly while others are slow responders to the very same training routine. Some athletes bloom with a high training volume while others respond better to high intensity training. Many have a stressful lifestyle which diminishes how much training stress they can tolerate. Others lead very sedate lives. The list of such individuality variables goes on and on with such topics as genetics, diet, experience, training venue, sports equipment, personality, support, and lots more. That’s why it would take me a very long time to figure out how a given athlete should train. Even then there is still a lot of room for other important details to pop up which I hadn’t even thought of.
The bottom line is that I simply can’t tell an athlete how to train based on name, age, and sport – or even a lot more emailed info. The best solution would be for the athlete to hire a coach or at least get a consultation from a coach. I wish I could tell everyone who asks how to train on Twitter with 280 characters or even in a lengthy email, but I can’t. I’m sorry.
(By the way, to select a training plan that hopefully comes close to meeting your needs be sure to read the plan “Preview” to see what the details are in regards to race type, experience, training volume, workout durations, high intensity sessions, and the training week routine.)