Just how refined does an athlete’s training need to be to deliver the results they need?
By asking this question, there is an important caveat to point out. Random doesn’t do it, and nor does poor quality coaching or approach. So let us agree with we all believe in the driving Purple Patch methodology and approach to help athletes evolve. Just how individual does training need to be under this banner?
The honest answer is that it depends, but you will be surprised at the nuance I point out below. Before we dig deeper into my full answer, I feel some context is warranted.
Context: These type of questions bubbled out of decisions and design for our new squad product. What do athletes need? What do athletes want? Both have strong influence on designing and delivery of the products. How can we cater to different athlete needs, the wide range of tech-ability in athletes, as well as the different desire for self-empowerment and management? We wanted simple, yet we chased the chance to go deep if desired. Not an easy solution. I began to think if different profiles of triathletes we serve (I am leaving the more lifestyle-focused aside for this discussion). Some profiles:
The Elite: Either pro or podium/qualification chasing serious age grouper -- often with complex needs and variable race schedules.
The Busy Executive: An athlete with highly variable schedule and life, who is juggling fire trying to fit all the pieces and demands of life together.
The Time-Starved Triathlete -- Who loves the details: The athlete who might not be obsessed with winning or chasing podiums, but does want to improve, and as a part of the journey they love the tech, metrics, toys and analysis that comes with the sport. A part of the passion is digging deep and playing in the software and toys.
The Time-Starved Triathlete -- Who just wants to execute: A big difference. Results driven and wanting to improve while thriving in life, but has little time, energy or desire to over-read, play with software or dig into metrics.
While there are other categories, these fit the central four types of triathletes we serve. Don’t feel left out if you feel like you don’t fit! You still do.
The San Francisco Squad: While considering these groups, I thought about these types of athlete categories we serve living in San Francisco -- the heartbeat of the program globally -- with more than enough success to go around and map a website full of personal achievement and accolades in itself. An interesting trend bubbled up. Of the four categories mentioned above -- what percentage of the athletes weekly program simply followed the main building blocks of the normal squad sessions? In other words -- if I and the Purple Patch coaches are leading three swims, two runs, two bike sessions weekly -- with a few general sessions wrap around (weekend ride, weekend run, strength etc), what percentage of the programming just follows along with the squad rhythm. The rough numbers I came up with:
The Elite: 50 to 60%
The Busy Executive: When in SF: 85%, Traveling: 40 to 50%
The Time-Starved Triathlete -- Who loves the details: 70 to 85%
The Time-Starved Triathlete -- Who just wants to execute: 95% (only race weeks off the Squad)
The majority of SF athletes follow along with the Squad for the vast majority of their workouts for the vast majority of the season!
The executives often require lots of love, and therefore we tend to direct toward 1:1 coaching support. The detail-driven athletes are more prone to guide toward specific race builds or embrace 1:1 coaching to dig deeper on the journey, but the majority of athletes in the program show up, execute, and remain consistent. They work incredibly hard and follow the Purple Patch methodology, including the positive habits to support performance. And they do well. Really well. In fact, Justin Riele is just one of these athletes and he just won the overall title at IRONMAN Hawaii 70.3.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, or you are pulled to think that every single session must be oh so special and refined for you to succeed -- think again. Success is under a wide net. The pathway is on your shoulders and built on consistency, specific methodology, great habits, and a whole bunch of grit and determination. I believe in our programming deeply -- in fact -- I believe it is the best there is, but that doesn’t mean the solution for all needs to be a solution of one.
More coming on this -- particularly for you Squaddies -- to help you drive to simplicity in your programming.