My coaching principles and framework

I have been coaching a small group of athletes over the last few years. It has been a gradual process of developing a small team of people who trust me and who I believe I can help to become better athletes. As you'll see further on in the post, it is important to me to understand each athlete to be able deliver specific training that is designed to help them achieve their individual goals. This naturally limits the number of people I can work with, however, as I have learned more and developed my training approach I now some additional capacity to take on some more coaching clients.

It has been an absolute pleasure to see these athletes improve and develop and I'm excited to help some more athletes in the future. If you're interest in my approach and in working with me, read through the principles and guidelines I have provided below. If these thoughts and ideas resonate with you then please contact me. If you're looking for some advice and information to help you coach yourself, there are plenty of studies and articles to help you on the resources page and in the newsletter.

My background

I have being competing in endurance sports for many years starting with cross-country running and triathlon and now in trail multi-stage races and trail ultra-marathons. Over that time I have experienced a lot of training protocols, made many mistakes, made refinements, and slowly figured out the best practices that work well for me as an athlete. As a teenager I designed extremely detailed training micro- and macro-cycles for my season specifying training session length to the minute (completely unnecessary!). Later I worked with world class triathlon coaches and then trail running coaches. After accumulating that experience and continually learning from reading and talking to other athletes and coaches I now design my own training and it has proved successful.

Along the way I have had people asking for my help to design their training programmes and to coach them. While I was always happy to help and provide advice and tips, I never formalised my approach into a coaching practice. However, over time I have improved my qualifications and I have worked informally with some athletes which allowed to see the impact I could have as a coach. This accumulation of experience and knowledge opened the door for me to start working as a coach. Now I careful select who I work with based on my belief of who I can help effectively and who will bring the required dedication and focus to their training regime.

I'm always willing to work with more athletes provided we both believe that my principles and approach will work for them and provided that the athlete is determined and willing to put in the work to achieve their goals.

My principles

Training can be a complicated process as there are many variables to consider. While there are over-arching concepts that apply to everyone and all types of training, the details and individual nature of each athlete and their goals requires careful tailoring and building of the training programme. I use the following principles to help guide each athlete and to prepare training programmes:

  • Training should be specific
  • Training should be consistent
  • Training should be progressive

Training should be specific

Specificity is a word I like to use a lot in describing training, as it covers so many different aspects of training. To start, the training needs to be specific to the athlete's current condition, the athlete's constraints, and the athlete's ability. Next, the training needs to be specific to the athlete's goal race or event and the technical nature of the event. Finally the training nexts to be specific to the phase and the capability being developed in the coaching framework.

Training should be consistent

Accumulating load and specific training stress over time is critical to improve and progress. The key part of this concept is "over time" as it takes a long time to develop each of the areas of the coaching framework. Sporadic and inconsistent training interrupts the accumulation of training load and therefore slows the development of the athlete. In order to be more consistent I like to be conservative in the load assigned and to be mindful of all factors that stress the athlete inside and outside of training. This means scheduling training that is within the athlete's ability and constraints, but also means being fast to adjust and revise when other unforseen factors impact training.

Training should be progressive

The development over time requires progressing the load to ensure that there is a consistent, specific, but also growing stimulus. It does take time to adapt and compensate for a training stimulus, but once that adaptation has been achieved it is important to progress and add a variation or new stimulus. There are multiple different areas of the coaching framework that require focus and at each point in time there will be some areas in development and some in maintenance. The progression may mean adjusting focus to an area that was in a maintenance phase, or it may require increasing of the stimulus to continue development of a current focus area. The progression needs to take into consideration the principles of specificity and consistency in deciding where to progress, but it is important to always be progressing as an athlete.

My coaching framework

In order to meet the principles and provide optimised training protocols, I like to ensure that every session has a purpose and focus. There are a number of different potential focus areas for each session and the goal is to improve one or more of these areas and hold the others in a maintenance status. The focus points for each session are:

  • metabolic: which metabolic system is being targeted for improvement and under what nutritional status the session will be performed. e.g. aerobic, anaerobic, or fasted, etc.
  • muscular: what type of stimulus or stress is being applied to the muscles and skeletal system. e.g. descent training to prepare the quadriceps for race conditions.
  • technical: what skills are being developed during the training. e.g. technical downhills, using poles, etc.
  • environmental: what the race conditions will be and how to adapt to these. e.g. altitude, heat, etc.

I want to be certain that I always know the reason for a session, that my athletes know and understand why they are performing a training session and what the goal of the session is, and that the session is thoroughly and clearly communicated. This approach extends to weekly goals, blocks, phases, and seasons.

My approach is heavily based on learning, developing an understanding of training, and providing the athlete with the best tools to reach their goals. I like to work with athletes who resonate with this approach and who want to learn and develop.

My additional areas of knowledge

I believe that optimising performance needs to consider the entire lifestyle and environment that an athlete finds themself in. There are a number of tools that I like to use that can also be included in the training advice and programmes I prepare. These focus on nutrition and recovery:

  • nutrition: I believe in a periodised approach to nutrition, using periods of low-carbohydrate intake (particularly applicable for multi-stage racing) and racing with an optimal nutritional strategy that includes high carboydrate consumption (train low, race high). I have developed this approach through my own experience, research and also taking the EndureIQ LDT101 nutrition course.
  • recovery: I believe that recovery is vital as it allows the body to absorb the training that has been completed and it provides for the super-compensation after a stimulus has been applied. A very useful tool in measuring recovery status is Heart Rate Variability. I work with HRV4Training and I highly recommend the app as a way to measure recovery status on a daily basis.

Working with me as your coach

I have capacity to take on some new coaching clients. If you resonate with the principles and coaching framework described above and you're interested in being coached by me, please send me an inquiry through the contact page.

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