March 19, 2019

Training Plans: 5 Reasons You Need One

Follow a well-crafted training plan and enjoy these five benefits as your train for your next running or triathlon race.

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If you’ve been following along then you’ll know that Coached develops training programmes for runners and triathletes.

We’ve been doing this for years now to help people improve their training experience and achieve their race goals.

It’s a significant challenge to create high-quality training programmes that deliver results but it’s also been a notable challenge to sell them.

One thing that has amazed me in the last 11-years that I have been coaching full time is a resistance I have seen to pay for advice. Many people won’t hesitate to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on gear but ask them to pay $49 /month for training and they look the other way.

While gear is often pretty and tangible, more often than not, it won’t make you a better athlete. On the other hand, a well-crafted training programme can transform you.

In today’s post, I share what I believe are some of the benefits of following a training plan and why I think you, as an athlete looking to get better, should be investing in one.

Improve Your Performance

We all know that plans improve performance.

If they didn’t builders wouldn’t use architectural drawings, pilots wouldn’t use flight plans and businesses wouldn’t use the scores of plans they use to optimise their operations and bottom line.

Performance in sport is no different, you NEED a plan.

While you can improve without a plan, it’s likely the improvement won’t last long and sooner or later you’ll find you have plateaued or hurt yourself.

A training plan helps an athlete to improve performance by putting structure, progression and balance into your training. It also provides a mental advantage as you build confidence through focused preparation that you track over time.

To improve your fitness and maximise your potential on race day, there are various systems you need to train. A well-written training plan addresses each of these systems and carefully builds on itself to strengthen your areas of weakness, enhance your strengths and bring you to a peak on race day.

Lower Your Risk Of Injury

A training plan helps to lower your risk of injury in the same way that it improves your performance.

It places structure, progression and balance into your training so that you are always training at a level that is suitable for you at your current level of fitness.

Only as your fitness improves and your tolerance to training increases should you begin to increase the volume and intensity. While that sounds like common sense, it is not so common in the real world where ego and emotion fuel motivation early in the training process.

Training always feels easy in the early days before fatigue sets in and as a result, athlete’s not following a plan tend to overdo things in the early stages and either lose motivation or get hurt.

If you want to perform at your best you have to optimise for consistency and that means training injury free.

Cut Race Times, Not Corners.

Racing at your potential and enjoying training is easy when you’re following the right programme.

Improve Your Body Composition And Energy Levels

If you want to perform at your best (and be healthy), being lean and having high levels of energy are definitely going to help you with that.

Unfortunately, many athletes don’t achieve this because they don’t have a plan that optimises for it.

Training intensity determines where the majority of your energy is coming from – fat or sugar – yet few athletes I see give much thought to the intensity they train at and which fuels they are using.

At Coached we structure our training plans and prescribe intensities in a progressive way that (combined with dietary advice) helps to improve your ability to generate energy from fat.

When you become fat adapted and are metabolically flexible, your body will burn more fat at all times, have a stable supply of energy, recover faster and perform better in training and racing.

Take Control Of Your Schedule

A person who knows what they are doing in advance is far more likely to execute it than the person who makes things up as they go along.

That’s because the latter is far more likely to be persuaded into things like after work drinks with colleagues than the person who has a plan and a commitment (training session) to themselves scheduled in their calendar.

As an age-group athlete you have a lot to balance; family, work, a social life and training are all fighting for your time and attention.

To optimise for consistency, you have to remove the friction and limit decision fatigue. Having a plan helps to do this as it takes the thinking out of what to do on a daily basis because the decision is already made and the details are clear.

When you have a training plan, you know exactly how long your session is and what you need to do.

Track Your Progress

When you have a structured training plan, you have something to track your training sessions against.

Over time, you’ll begin to see patterns that allow you to determine what is working and what is not. Once you know that, it’s easy to refine your approach and make tweaks to your training plan that will help to keep you improving.

If you are suffering niggles or get hurt, you’ll have a clear plan that you can look back on along with the actual training you did. Often you’ll see pretty easily why you have broken down.

Failing To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail

"I was training hard and making some progress on my own but after optimising my training with a Coached training plan, I have improved my marathon from 3:45 to 3:01 and I am heading to Boston next month for the first time."

That’s what one of our runner’s, Romain, had to say about following our training plan.

If you’re keen to improve, suffer from recurrent injuries or are struggling with how to optimise your training around life, we’d love to help you.

We offer a 14-day free trial so please sign up and we’ll see you inside Coached.

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Ben Pulham

Ben Pulham is the founder of Coached, a personalised training programme that helps runners & triathletes optimise, track and enjoy their training.