In my first post on this topic I posed that belief in your training program and your coach is an essential element to success. If that “coach” is you then you have to believe in how you apply all the information you have found. If you coach others, it’s critical to build confidence in your athletes in your system.
Rick Suhr coaches the #2 in the world, #1 in the US, pole vaulter Jenn Stuczinski’s. He states is pretty clearly: “I feel that a lesser-known system totally believed in will be more effective than a wider-known system that is not believed in.” Such is the power of belief.
Some elite track & field athletes change coaching and training programs like it’s musical chairs. He made this observation of American vaulters (it’s also true of runners and other track & field athletes): “I don’t see the belief in other Americans (other than Jenn). They make changes in coaches and end up going backwards rather than progressing.” He went on to say that many Europeans have faith in their particular coach and system. They believe in the coach and the way he/she teaches the event.
Here are messages to take from this.
It doesn’t mean stop tweaking your workouts to get the most from yourself.
It doesn’t mean stop researching effective training.
It doesn’t mean stop asking other coaches what they do and how they do it.
It doesn’t mean you have to change training systems or coaches if you’ve hit a plateau in your race times.
It does mean you still should make adjustments to your training program to optimize your conditioning, and seek out more information from different sources. It also means that candid, frequent feedback from the athlete to the coach is essential. The real coaching takes place when the system is adapted to the individual. That cannot happen in a vacuum. Coaches do not read minds.
There is a time to change systems and coaches however most runners do not have the patience to work a system and work with a coach. It is pretty safe to say that a solid training system needs more than a single season to evaluate progress. That means a 16 week marathon wonder program is not sufficient to know if that specific approach works for you or not. In that case it means that the athlete is basing “progress” on a single race, single race distance at the end of 16 weeks. It is an all or nothing proposition. A single race (good or bad) can never tell the whole story on the soundness of a training system. So, of critical importance is patience (I know just what every runner has plenty of…) and unbiased analysis is critical to making a sound decision on making a training change.