Coach Tip Tuesday: Repeated Workouts Have a Place!
Unlike last week, this week I can believe that it’s Tuesday again. Which means it’s Coach Tip Tuesday again!
At least 60% of my working time each week is spent reviewing athlete workouts going over their master plans for the season, and then crafting the following week’s schedule of workouts. I do this for each and every single one of the athletes who I work with. It’s intensely detailed work that I love to do, as it’s what helps each athlete grow, reach their best, and hit their goals. More importantly, this process helps each athlete believe in themselves.
One of the things I build into training plans are repeated workouts. What’s a repeated workout? It’s a workout that was previously on the athlete’s schedule in the past and is now on it again. This week, my tip is this: repeated workouts have a place in a good training plan.
There are a lot of reasons to include repeated workouts. The #1 repeated “workout” in a training schedule for any athlete who I work with is stretching. Every single athlete who I work with has stretching on their schedule every.single.day. Why?? Because it’s really important every.single.day. It’s the consistent and frequent action of stretching that causes an athlete to make gains in this area over time. And as such, it’s the most important repeated workout.
Another repeated workout is a recovery workout. For a majority of the athletes who I work with, these workouts are scheduled on Mondays due to the fact that they complete their longest workouts of the week on the weekends. Recovery workouts come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be any discipline. Which discipline I select depends on a lot of factors (the athlete’s schedule, availability, and sport of choice being just a few of these), but the workout itself is actually usually exactly the same week-to-week. The point of a recovery workout is to get the blood flowing at a slightly-more-accelerated-rate-than-normal.
How do we do this? By getting the heart beating at a higher rate. This allows the body to flush out waste products more quickly and to begin to repair the tissues damaged by training. Yes, indeed, we damage our tissues when we train. And when they repair themselves, they actually repair themselves to be STRONGER (to protect themselves from similar damage in the future), which is what allows us to make gains over time. The trick with recovery workouts is to keep the heart rate elevated, but not too elevated. There isn’t any fitness gain to be sought from this...it’s all about maximizing recovery so that the athlete is ready to work hard later in the training week. And thus, this repeated workout has a very important place in a training plan.
Finally, repeated workouts can be exceptionally magical in that they can show an athlete the progress that they are making. All too often, athletes get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day, and they lose sight of the progress that they are actually making. As their coach, I can see the progress made by the athletes that I’m working with. But it’s my job to see the forest through the trees, and it’s my job to help athletes see it with me. And thus, the same workout spaced out in a training plan can have tremendous value.
Just a few weeks ago, one of the athletes I work with made the following comment on a workout in Final Surge: “I was beating myself up about this workout, then looked at the results from when I did this same workout in December. Every 300 time was faster than the last time with a shorter rest between sets.” Now, if you’ve talked to me for more than five seconds, you know that my feelings about this athlete beating themselves up about a workout can generate an entire Coach Tip Tuesday post on their own. However, that aside, the repeated workout did work it’s magic: it showed the athlete very definitively that they are stronger and faster than they were in December. BOOM.
Too much of the same all the time, and you’ll never make progress. But repeated workouts are very, very valuable in a training plan when they are purposefully and mindfully incorporated, and as such, they’re a staple for me when planning the best course for each of the athletes who I work with. Take a good look at your own plan, and see if they might be valuable to you! :)
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.