In Endurance Sport, there are many factors that influence the quality of a workout and how an Athlete performs on a given day.
Most of these variables we can control, positively influence, or account for. But in order to balance training with life stress, catch early signs of fatigue, pinpoint low adaptation to training stimulus, or signs of over-training - there has to be more.
More of what you ask? Feedback!
From the coaching perspective, cutting-edge data collection tools, although robust in many ways and armed with tremendous analytic capability, are still limited to three offerings: a power-meter, a heart rate monitor, or a GPS-computer.
And what’s more, not every Athlete has access to, or utilizes, each of these tools simultaneously.
All the data in the world can't tell the whole story from a given workout or event, which is why it is necessary to enhance your data with excellent feedback! Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
When feedback is not included with an uploaded activity, this leaves many details to the imagination of a Coach who will be trying to assess what the Athlete experienced during a particular bout of training.
Additionally, the data metrics compiled by the tools above only offer a “2-D” view of a workout, while a Coach is seeking to evaluate an Athlete in a 3-D world.
There-in lies the necessity for high-quality feedback direct from the Athlete to detail their experience and what did, or did not, go well.
With this reality in mind, and the knowledge that detailed post-workout feedback is key to prescribing the most appropriate training load, we have assembled the following guidelines for Post-Workout Feedback:
#1: Be A Narrater Of Your Own Story
That doesn’t mean you have to be suspenseful like Stephen King, dramatic like Shakespeare, or witty like your favorite sitcom-writer, but you should think of your workout as a story, as it has an opening (the warm-up), middle-act or crescendo (interval work or structured training), and a conclusion (the warm-down).
Using this method will add a high-degree of clarity to any workout data provided through your GPS-computer, power-meter, or heart rate monitor; taking this 2-D information and making it a three-dimensional experience that can be assessed and evaluated by your Coach.
For example, if prescribed a fast-paced group-ride, but upon arrival you find the group to be less-spirited than normal; communicating this information through your post-workout commentary would clarify why workout data reflected an easier than expected ride.
It should be said that by no means is the expectation that each workout requires a written novel. Much to the contrary, post-workout commentary should clear, direct, and concise.
However, a rough outline of your workouts’ storyline will greatly enhance your Coaches ability (as well as your own) to evaluate the performance now and into the future.
Was it unexpectedly raining or windy, and you didn't have the appropriate gear? Those are important bits of information a GPS-computer can't share. Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
#2: Detail What Is Not Included In The Data
Modern training metrics and data-collection tools are incredibly sophisticated, but there are still components of training that are not measured, gathered, or monitored.
These items include hydration and nutrition consumption, traffic patterns that potentially interrupt interval work, mechanical mishaps that cause lengthy stops, or issues such as cramping or pain in the body, just to name a few.
Detailing these items, and others, as they arise, will add clarity to the workout in question.
For example, knowing that an Athlete is experiencing back pain while in the drops is important information that can be discussed and potentially solved once the root-cause(s) are understood.
#3: Discuss Possible Outliers
An outlier is defined as anything that is wholly different than all other items being considered, something out of the ordinary.
This could be a lack of sleep before a difficult training session, a particularly stressful day at work, the addition of a new saddle, bike position or shoe/cleat combination, it could even be indigestion brought on by trying a new restaurant at lunch-time... the possibilities are limitless.
By describing possible outliers in your post-workout commentary it can be much easier to understand or investigate why a particular performance did not go as expected or why the body did not perform accordingly.
I did GRATE...a most excellent play on words when competing in an area of the country famous for it's gourmet cheeses! Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
#4: As A Bonus Add Color-Commentary
Color commentary is definitely not a requirement for a post-workout comment, but there is something to be said for making the feedback uniquely yours.
Just as a blogger develops their own “voice” or a Sunday morning comic strip creator has a knack for a particular kind of humor, adding jest to a workout only enhances the experience as it is being communicated, thus helping your Coach better understand the scenario being described.
Time is our most valuable asset, so it is understandable that post-workout commentary can get over-looked from time to time.
However, with these simple guidelines it can be easy to add direct and relevant feedback to every workout.
By adding post-workout commentary to your training on a regular basis, you will experience numerous benefits that will enhance your training, not the least of which is better and more enlightened feedback from your Coach.
As Endurance Athletes it takes mastering many facets of these complex sports to achieve our very best.
And two ways to expedite that mastery is to seek expert advice and maintain a log of detailed workout feedback… the combination of which will propel you to your best much more rapidly!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching