Training by perceived effort.

5 Dec

In today’s world of technology and gadgets so many people get focused on buying more gear and then focus training, racing and so on around the technical data things like power meters, heart rate monitors, GPS watches and so on produce. Now as a competitive athlete and coach yes of course I love these things and I love data and using the data to coach an athlete and help them improve. But not everyone can afford all of these things and not every athlete likes to wear monitors and gadgets of these sorts and that’s OK.

So as a coach I like to take things back to basics often times and teach athletes to train by perceived effort level. Cycling this can be really crucial because so many own a kinetic trainer which does not go by watts, and they don’t have power meter crank sets etc… so I can’t hardly prescribe them a workout based on FTP and watts. This is where I use a scale for perceived effort for them.

Perceived effort works really well; because it allows the athlete to train based on how they feel on a certain day and to the conditions of the day. When you get so focused on paces, or power outputs it can leave you sometimes either not pushing hard enough, or it can leave you feeling dejected and frustrated because for whatever reason you were not feeling so good that day and it was a struggle to hit your paces or power output. But when you go on a perceived effort scale it allows you to train based on how you feel that given day at that given moment and does not mess with your mental game it keeps you positive because you know you pushed as hard as you were suppose to for that given interval/workout.

Perceived effort also allows you to just run, bike, swim and not stare at a watch or computer. It allows you to free your mind some and focus on body cues not data that your fancy device is kicking out for you to see. I like this a lot for hard effort runs, runs on the track when you want to just open up and see what happens and really push you. Running shorter intervals like a 200 or 400 I really like going by a perceived effort level some days. Same goes with hill running; because hills are typically challenging and make our paces slow down if we focus on what the goal pace is suppose to be we will go nuts on hills and run them too hard and burn too much energy. But if we focus on a effort level scale and run them under control more based on the grade and length of the hill based on how we as an athlete feel it will allow us to stay more under control not burn too much energy and be able to get back into pace easier and recover easier once the road flattens out.

Heart rate is a great tool to use in coaching an athlete and training I do enjoy it but I also find it to be a limiting tool. Heart rate is affected by so many things; sleep, caffeine, heat, and humidity and so on. If the athlete try’s to focus their workout on heart rate they could really limit themselves especially if it’s a hard effort day or race. So again this is another great reason to use perceived effort level as a way to gage things. However I do really like using heart rate on Recovery days for athletes to slow them down and make sure they don’t push too hard and that they truly do perform at an easy low intensity recovery effort.

So if you can’t afford all the fancy tools out there for sale it’s OK you can still find a method to train. Race and accomplish the same types of efforts. Years ago athletes did not have anything but a simple stop watch and perceived effort to push themselves and train by just because the world has evolved and we now have access to a lot of fancy stuff does not mean we can’t remain a little old school now and again. So as much as I love fancy toys and data, and everyone truly does use the perceived effort method to train by until that sugar mama comes along and buys you a power meter and the other fancy tools to record every little piece of data you can.

(I do train very much by watts and power meters with the bike if an athlete has access to those things, I do still like to train athletes by goal paces, and within a running pace structure also, and I do use heart rate with them as well sometimes) So this blog was not supposed to discount those tools but give you an alternative way to think sometimes when training. A more old school method that is still very effective today!

 

Happy training, stay focused and make it happen! No excuses!

Cheers

Coach MB

www.gottahavehearttraining.com 

 

 

 

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