'Beware The Dictator Coach'
Beware the Dictator Coach
Avoid " the my way or the highway syndrome"
By Coach GP Pearlberg
There are thousands of runners that belong to the many running and triathlon clubs that span the United States from major cities to the smallest towns. Many of these clubs have similar mission statements, but many have diverse agendas and goals and specialize in different areas of triathlon and track & Field. Almost without exception, they each share one common thread. The Head coach. For the most part these are, knowledgeable, highly motivated , sympathetic and passionate individuals. They serve with tireless energy and inspire all members of their respective clubs. Once in a while however, you come across the tyrant, autocratic coach with the ' my way or the high way ' attitude…. If you know this person and h\she is at a track near you……go to your nearest running resource, the local technical running store and seek out an alternate running authority in your area.
The type of coach to which I am referring is the coach that criticizes all other methods of training apart from his\her own. This is the coach that when introduced to a new member of a club does not take the time to interview the individual to find out where they are in their journey as an athlete, what phase of their training they are in, their medical and injury history and of course, their running goals. This same coach, refuses to tailor make workouts to the individual but rather takes the ' one size fits all cookie cutter approach' . H\she is the coach that is closed minded to changes in technology and does not study to keep up with the latest research in physiology and its subsequent application in the world of running. H\she is lost when you mention some of the latest research on for example, nutrition and heart rate training and is inflexible in his\her willingness to create a race program that takes into account the individual strengths and weaknesses of the individual but rather, selfishly holds fast to the idea that his methods have worked for his other athletes and therefore they must work for you.
Whilst I certainly agree that sound physiological principles must be adhered to in training and as human beings we share obvious common elements that respond without bias to these principles it is a fact that we respond at differing rates according to our physiological and psychological make up. I encourage you therefore to study the three main energy systems of the body, aerobic, anaerobic glycolytic and anaerobic alactic. I encourage you to discover how changing the emphasis of which energy system is being stressed during a specific workout, phase or period of training engenders different stimulus to your body. Knowing which energy system to emphasize and when is the key to creating the building blocks to optimal competitive fitness and comes under the heading of Periodization. Periodiation is created via separate periods of the training cycle (often referred to as a Macrocycle which is then broken up into smaller periods known as Mesocycles (three to four week periods of training) and microcycles (often considered to be a seven day period).
I encourage you to ask questions of your coach based upon your training goals. For example, ask him\her what phase are you in currently and where does it fit into your overall plan that they have for you ? Are you in aerobic threshold development (that base of the building block period that emphasizes easy type running usually at 65% Vo2 Max or below) to encourage adequate aerobic stimulus to where you become extremely efficient at utilizing maximal oxidization of fatty acid substrates for energy. A very good thing for us endurance athletes ! Are you in Lactate threshold phase ? (85-90% Vo2) and if not, when do they plan for you to be, this emphasis helps your muscular efficiency by pushing back the breakpoint during exercise at which blood lactate production exceeds removal. It also increases the sparing of glycogen, another key for us endurance athletes. Are you Max Vo2 or critical zone training ? Two other key areas of your training cycle. The former referring to your individual ability to deliver and utilize oxygen at the highest rate possible at the cellular level and the latter being race sharpening where you are in the final stages of training prior to your major competition. If not when will you be and what will the content be ? Ask questions,.
A good coach should be open minded, interactive not dictatorial, have a sound understanding of the science and should have the people skills necessary to connect profoundly with the athlete, i.e. you ! Under no circumstances, settle for an autocratic old school coach that is closed minded and says it is either his\her way or the highway !
Walk in peace and let the good times roll !