Bet you thought I forgot about these posts didn’t you? They’re back!!!
Today’s post is an interview with my good friend and fellow blogger, Brittany of Britt Fuel. Brittany shares my passion for athletics, food, and blogging. She currently coaches swimmers and triathletes, works at a triathlon shop in Camarillo, CA, and is en route to getting her M.S. in Nutrition at CSUN. You may see her out running in the trails, swimming in the ocean, or biking on some highway in socal–be sure to wave!
I asked Brittany how she writes training plans for her clients (as I was curious myself). Here are some highlights of the conversation:
L: What kind of training plans do you typically write?
B: Mostly swim and triathlon plans, occasionally with running/marathon plans inside of the larger triathlon plan.
L: What kind of sport do you feel most comfortable writing plans for?
B: Swim and triathlon
L: What are the steps you go through to write a plan?
B: a. Determine the end goal and small goals for the journey. b. Take into account the athlete’s background, current fitness level, and basic weekly availability (what we’ve got to work with). c. Come up with a general scheme (break training into phases). d. Start with the first phase and write 2-4 week specific plans/workouts at a time, leaving room to adjust as athlete provides feedback. e. Be flexible. Stuff happens.
L: Why do you go through these steps?
B: It is important to set goals, so that workouts can be planned with the focus in mind. Mini in-season goals are also good to assess progress and keep focused. Personally, I think it is good to have goals that are very attainable (e.g. finish the race), goals that are within reach but require hard work and great conditions (e.g. get a personal best time), and goals that are lofty (e.g. win the whole race or age group). Also, it is very important to know about an athlete’s background and current fitness and lifestyle. You don’t want to write a training plan that is far too difficult for the athlete–that may make them want to quit altogether. You definitely don’t want the athlete to get injured either. Finally, it is best not to write in specific workout details too far ahead of time, as expectations may need to be altered throughout a season due to the many variables of life.
L: You have a degree in Physiological Science. What did you learn from your studies that is applicable to how you write a training plan or how you suggest people train in general?
B: I think that personal experience is definitely most valuable here. But, I did learn a lot about how complex the body is. Sometimes we want to know exactly why things turn out the way they do; why did we have a “bad” workout, why was our stomach was upset, or why did we feel tired? Sometimes, we know what went wrong, or we need to go back and figure it out/experiment. Those are great learning experiences, even if they seem discouraging. Another big lesson from the human body: If you want to do something, train your body and mind to do that thing. Don’t do tons of unnecessary things that only make you more tired. Rest as much as possible to recover while doing the work that needs to be done. The mind is so amazing. I learned about a track athlete that was injured, but trained her mind repetitively by visualization techniques, and once recovered, her track performance was not hindered by her lack of physical training.
L: Let’s say you’re designing a training plan for a half marathon someone wants to run. What does that plan typically look like?
B: I would start from the race weekend and work backwards. I would have you do light running the week before the race, mostly short runs with some race pace mixed in. About 3 weeks to 2 weeks before the race would be your major workouts…these include maximum pre-race distance runs (maybe 14-16 milers) as well as some maximum intensity pace runs at race pace or faster (probably on a track) to include 400m-3200m repeats. Everything before these key workouts would be (working backwards) building up to the key workouts to adequately prepare you for them without burnout or injury. I like the basic structure of 2 weeks build in training followed by one week of lighter training (recovery). Also, in each week I like to assign at least one, and maybe up to 3, day(s) of complete recovery or very light activity.
L: Do you think we can all train the same way? How do you individualize plans?
B: No too people are the same, so no too people will respond the same way to the same plan. Therefore, while they could train by the same plan, they may not see the same results. For optimal training, I think individualization is best. I do this by getting to know the person and knowing what they want, what they value, what their day looks like, etc.
L: What is your favorite part(s) about writing training plans for yourself or others?
B: I like the challenge. It is like a puzzle, trying to consider so many variables. Basically it is a science experiment, but fun!
Thanks so much Brittany! Be sure to check out Brittany’s blog :)