Thursday, December 27, 2007

Old School vs New School

Another ST inspired post... this time in the form of an email from the grand poobah of ST, Dan Empfield. Dan also started a thread on ST on the same topic, what defines new school / old school coaching, which got some interesting responses. This seems to be a topic that comes up fairly frequently, Paulo also had a posting on this same topic a few weeks ago here

Here was my response to Dan's question:

"If I had to choose a side, I would put myself in the old school camp.

TSS is monitored as a curiosity, but does not drive my programming. My favored metrics are simply duration, overall s-b-r volume and volume of intensity in key workouts. I've looked into other methods of quantification, but I always come back to the basics, for simplicity and effectiveness.

I am very familiar with "new school" methods, through my formal education and my own experimentation over the years. All my athletes use SRMs on their bikes, and GPS units running. I use a web based scheduling tool/log. I've used cyclingpeaks since the beginning, an am familiar with TSS, IF, ATL, CTL, TSB, etc. I regularly troll pubmed for news in sports science. I have access to any testing you could want (although I use very little formal testing). Given all that, I would still describe the core way I deliver my programs as "old school". I trust my own experience and decision making ability over any metrics. I believe coaching is more art than science and will always be that way. I choose to keep my programs simple, and the message to the athletes as far as what to do, and when, also simple. I choose to prescribe training in terms of time and RPE the majority of the time, as I find it most effective. My favored intensity prescription is "steady" or "solid". My athletes all know what that means and they get the job done according to that. I monitor other metrics, but the metrics don't drive the program. I believe the fundamentals of what makes successful endurance athletes haven't changed in decades, and in fact the "new school" often loses the plot of what is important for endurance success by putting too much emphasis on testing, gadgets, monitoring, even taking specificity too far. The three things most important to endurance success are 1- fitness, 2- fitness and 3- fitness. Most athletes barely scratch the surface of their capabilities in terms of basic fitness due to their preconceived notions of what their limits are, and what is possible. I have access to an entire team of support personnel, physiologists, lab techs, psychologists, strength and conditioning specialists, chiros, physios, etc, but I stick to massage and physio/chiro to aid recovery, and generally run the rest of the program myself, as I find most of these "specialist" types don't get it, they don't understand the fundamentals."

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