The Importance of a Structured Training Plan
Having a plan is essential to success
by: Erinne Willock
February 20, 2012
What’s one of the most crucial aspects that separate elite athletes from everyone else? After talking and witnessing many teammates and competitors throughout the past 15 years it’s having a Structured Training Plan. How many times have I heard or had teammates say to me two days before a race “I’ll do whatever you’re doing today, my coach didn’t send me anything”. Three things: The athlete doesn’t have a plan, a back-up plan or they don’t have the knowledge to make a last-minute plan. In my opinion it all comes down to confidence. When this happens the athlete’s confidence in their coach, plan and fitness has all diminished.
There are many coaches out there with many different theories that can work, as well as many athletes that coach themselves, but the key aspect is that successful athletes have structured training plans that they understand, believe in and are structured for them alone! Typically a coach will decipher the athlete’s present fitness, their weaknesses and strengths, their goals etc… until they have the information to build a detailed Yearly Training Plan. With this Yearly Training Plan the athlete is provided an overall picture of what their year will look like. As an athlete you MUST believe and have the confidence in this plan, or as I’ve seen many times the athlete will not follow it.
A long time ago I had a teammate who ended up being my best training partner. We were absolute opposites physiologically; I was a climber/stage racer and she a flat-lander and one day racer. She had a different coach then me and for whatever reasons she didn’t follow her plan. I’m not sure if it was because she didn’t have regular training sent to her or maybe she didn’t believe in it. Either way, she saw my own commitment to my program and decided she was going to do my workouts and ignore her own. I pushed her on the climbs and she pushed me on the flats. I got stronger in both because I had the proper recovery and efforts built into the plan for me. But after a year of following climbers’ and stage racers training I sometimes think my teammate thought she’d turn into a climber herself, but instead she lost confidence in her own strengths and she stopped performing to her potential.
Now of course your yearly training plan is only a guideline for the year, and from it the specific training workouts, the best race preparation and individual needs are built. Also, your specific training can change monthly, weekly or daily depending on the situation, sicknesses, injury, fatigue etc… But whatever happens, there should be a reason for change and decisions should be referred back to the yearly plan.
In the least, I know one of the best advantages when starting a race is when an athlete has the confidence on race day that they have followed a detailed plan that was built and altered specifically for them and their needs, and that they are ready to race to their potential.