I recently had the incredible opportunity to meet with some of the best coaches in the fitness industry at the Endurance Coaching Summit in Boulder, Co. earlier this month. It was a two and a half days packed full of incredible information about everything endurance fitness related; from cutting edge technology, to the latest and greatest from the world of performance nutrition, to what the best in the business do to motivate, inspire, and develop their athletes. Of course, the goal of the entire conference (and every coach and fitness professional there) was to find out how best to improve performance in their athletes. Seasoned athletes and weekend warriors alike want to get the best out of themselves and perform up to their potential, whether that means qualifying for the world championships, or simply giving their best effort in the gym twice a week. We all want to see positive results. We want to see improvement.
So, while attending the conference and listening to some of the best fitness minds in the world, I was hoping to find some nugget, some silver bullet, or take-away that would be the end all be all to help others improve their performance. And I found it...sort of.
After listening to 22 of some of the most accomplished coaches and athletes in the endurance world cover all sorts of topics, from nutrition to technique mastery to coaching theory to performance psychology, there was one salient theme that resounded: DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
Some might think, “Wait a minute! That’s it?! That’s all?’Do what works for you!?!?’ What does that even mean?!” That’s a fair question. The answer is simple: there is no ‘one-size-fits all’ approach to fitness or to exceptional performances. There is no ‘best’ approach to nutrition, diet, measurement, periodization schedule or any other aspect of fitness.
A prime example was related by legendary 6-time Ironman World Champion and master endurance coach Dave Scott as he gave his keynote address at the summit. He spoke about having coached both 3-time Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander, AND undefeated (14-0) Ironman phenom and 4-time World Champion Chrissie Wellington. Having the same coach, one might think that each of these two multiple-time world champions would have a similar approach to training and racing. As it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth. Chrissie trained and raced by feel. And clearly it worked for her, remaining undefeated in her career at the Ironman distance. She didn’t watch her heart rate, her wattage on the bike, or any of the many other metrics that other coaches and athletes use to calculate performance over time. However, Craig Alexander was the polar opposite, pouring over every piece of data he could gather, paying attention to every calorie, watt, and heartbeat to ensure his optimal race performance. Yet both were career world champions and dominated their competition. Over the years, they had each found a winning formula that worked for them, yet those formulas were nothing alike.
Over the course of the conference, we heard case studies about high carb vs low carb diets, arguments for and against different training techniques, and debates around why or why not to use different coaching metrics. The reasons for each approach were all compelling and certainly had their merits, yet my takeaway was simply that everyone is different- and my role as a coach is to help people figure out what works for them. So, here are a 3 keys to help figure out YOUR best approach to fitness goals: