As a coach, I spend so much time debunking crazily complicated training models and ideas that athletes bring to me. Our social media and standard media world love to pitch and sell to you that if it looks super complicated, then it has real value! Pause, stop even, this is the power of marketing and not a reality.

We are being led down a path of false trust in complicated methods and at the same time are being made to believe that something simple cannot possibly help us.

For me the truth in life as well as training comes from following the simple things and focusing on doing them well. I find then the surrounding elements tend to slot in nicely.

I love the Bruce Lee quote

“a sculptor does not keep adding to their work but keeps removing until you are left with the masterpiece”

Let’s break this down. When we complicate things and add more things to a process, how are we improving it…?

Let’s take the simple task of going for a base effort bike ride or run. The athlete already knows their training zone so the process is very simple- they go run! (obviously we are looking at an athlete who has no injury etc and is otherwise good health).  They lock into this zone physically, their mind is focused on the goal, its simple for them to achieve and will bring aerobic gains to their training.

Now let’s add in TSS, CTL, FORM to name a few other measures/performance indicators. What happens now is that the athlete starts to carry anxiety and worries that they might not tick all these performance indicators. Stress causing mental and physical fatigue.

Taking the next step, the athlete gets home after completing their training and is met with a multitude of data and information. This athlete has most likely done their session spot on (they trained correct zone for correct time), but the other training scores are telling them they underperformed. Something that was a positive session has left this athlete with a negative feeling about the session.

Many time’s on weekly calls with athletes, I will be discussing their training and will keep bringing them back to, how did you feel? What was happening with your heart rate? Were legs heavy?  These are your direct responses to training load and are simple to follow (not complicated)

Do not get me wrong here, these stats and figures can be useful. But I have studied and worked within this industry for over 22 years, enabling me to pick through these other fitness measure and see when they are useful and when they can and should be ignored. Hey! This is my chosen profession, that’s what I do- you should not need a degree or masters plus 20 years to be able to go follow a training plan.

There are many examples of how we often look for complicated answers to our somewhat simple problems or goals…

I have recently seen a % formula being used to say when a gradient should be walked by an athlete and when it should be run?? Surely my legs and lungs will tell me this.

If we look to Oriental martial arts, a student can spend a lifetime in perfecting one punch. This one technique, a somewhat simple technique when used will be by far more efficient than the western student who has achieved a blackbelt in 2 years of training twice a week, who has been overloaded with complex routines to perform.

The simple becomes the powerful.

Another great example is Steve Jobs (Apple). His aim was to build a system that hid all the complicated and that by the time the product was in the consumers hands, all they needed to do was perform basic actions to achieve amazing things. Steve Jobs, like a coach, has the complicated (should have, not always the case) but the product you sell and give to your athlete is simple, concise, easy to follow.

Next time you hear someone say “it’s actually really simple” maybe trust them.


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