Perks are numerous. And it was initially really difficult for me to think about the negatives. But I wanted to give a balanced and honest assessment of my training regime, because Maris asked. And maybe others are wondering the same.
For a start, I like to curate my own training program (from Dan Pfaff’s 3-day rollover with a dash of prehab + hills and some other exercises that I enjoy doing/helps me mentally prep for excellence).
But sometimes I try to do too much. And that’s where complete control and the need to fit everything in because I am a “perfectionist” and every week needs to include every single thing (it doesn’t) leads to problems.
A coach or knowledgeable training partner can be a voice of reason to restrain my over-eager self when I start to over-train.
They can also be a counterbalance for the other extreme – under-training.
And that’s why having a coach or training support is helpful with regulation when self-regulation fails. Because it sometimes does.
I was poorly the other week with the flu.
A chill in my bones. Running nose. Blocked sinuses. Weak and shivering. An absolute mess.
And it was probably…potentially…possibly…maybe because of poor self-regulation.
Or just bad luck.
But what I do know is it makes me aware of my limitations- mentally and physically.
Mentally because it’s tough being both coach and athlete.
And it’s humbling. Because you are reminded that you’re only human. And thus flawed.
Perks of training alone – control my training program and this isn’t subject to the whims of training partners or coaches who want to reduce or increase a session based on what the weather is doing or what other athletes in the group look like they can handle; my program is based on me, for me. I just follow the script based on my self-perception and program guidelines.
Problems of training alone – controlling my training program means sometimes I feel bad but I am not 100% sure whether to listen to that feeling and do less or whether to push through because I am just being a baby. Most of the time, I do the right thing because I am quite self aware. Sometimes I get it wrong. With a coach, it is nice to be able to throw them the problem and have them answer the question – should I do this full session or not? How should I adapt this session if X is hurting, niggly or I feel a cold coming on etc. etc? But I can only release control when the next important component is in place…
Another important aspect of training alone vs training with others is the TRUST aspect.
I trust myself to lead myself because it’s a massive part of adulting. And I’ve been doing it for a while. And I guess I am a more experienced athlete these days.
I also know that any errors made are my fault. I know that if I make an error in programming or technical input, that’s on me. And I can handle that.
It frustrates me when I put my trust in a coach for guidance, support or whatever, and I’m let down.
Trust can take a long time and a lot of patience to build, but is very easily destroyed. And when trust disappears, so does my confidence in my coach and myself. And then I have to start rebuilding, having lost the positive momentum that I previously had. And that’s annoying.
Perks of training alone – I can trust the metrics, e.g. the time on the stop watch or the distances in the pit and the weights being thrown around the weights room. I can trust the video footage when I ask a random track user to film a particular rep. And I can trust, to an extent, my assessment of that footage and make corrections based on this. I can also trust that, subsequently sending this footage on to Dan Pfaff, I will receive either a confirmation of my thoughts or additional info to improve upon it (most often the latter!) And then I can trust myself to make the changes, or at least be aware of the problem to try to improve movement patterns.
Problems of training alone – it’s not always easy to find someone to video…a lot of times I am completely alone at the track except for the track workers who may be manning the front desk. I hand-time so not 100% accurate. Sometimes you can run fast and jump far without the optimum technique. I mean, you’ve seen me run and jump, right?
It is far easier for me to talk to and with myself than it is for me to talk with another person. I know that’s a weird thing to say. But I enjoy my own company. I also enjoy silence. And I enjoy doing my own thing. (Like, I rarely experience FOMO.)
You don’t get much of that in a group or normal coaching setting.
You get a lot of external voices interrupting your own internal dialogue.
So that takes getting used to.
And it also takes getting used to on the part of the coach: giving the athlete a moment to process their last run or jump themselves internally before jumping in with feedback, opinions and corrections.
Some coaches do this well. Others not so well. And others, still…terribly.
The perks of training alone – internal conversation and self-correcting.
The problems of training alone – internal conversation and poor or zero self-correcting because you’ve not focused on the right / main thing to correct or you’re stuck in a poor habit or pattern that will take an external support system to correct.
So leading into the 2020 season, I guess I have a good balance – I train alone 3-4 days per week and have some trusted input 1-2 days per week.
Here’s the ideal, IMO:
Training with some coaching or group support that allows for immediate, hopefully correct feedback from a trusted source that focuses on the main thing, giving time for an athlete to also add to the equation with their own feedback based on how a particular movement or technique felt to them.