The Feedback Loop

It has been a great run of weather down in the South West this past week with some excellent riding conditions. The Youth and Junior Race Squads have had some good results over Easter with plenty of top ten and podium finishes. I have now been working with this group of 7 riders for nearly six months and have been really impressed with their attitude to training and riding. It is always a balancing act with young riders. On the one hand they are all super keen to win races and train hard, but at the same time you must keep it fun and not ruin their love for the sport with too much intensity or volume in training.

This balancing act is not just a factor we consider for young riders. A big part of us being able to gauge the appropriate level of training is the feedback loop between athlete and coach. We absolutely cannot coach people without understanding how they FEEL about their training sessions. When I do my weekly, fortnightly or monthly athlete reviews, the first thing I look for is how many green workouts there are in their Training Peaks calendar. If the majority of workouts are green I know that consistency has been high. This is THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT THING. If there is a sea of red, incomplete workouts and there has been no communication from the athlete then there is no feedback I can give (except an email asking if you are ok?!?).

For the completed workouts I can then look to see whether the specified intensity was met by the rider in the sessions. This is the THIRD MOST IMPORTANT THING. Great CONSISTENCY and accurate INTENSITY is a WINNING COMBINATION.

Next I look at the athletes post workout feedback. The best athletes feedback to me on every workout and ride using a standardised language or system for calibrating how the session went and how it felt. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING as it provides CONTEXT for everything else. You would be amazed at how many athletes provide no feedback and then want me to let them know how a session went faced with just a heart rate graph and some cadence data. YOU TELL ME how it felt, how prepared you were, how you ate beforehand etc etc.

With power there is a lot more to go on as I can see how your performance varied throughout an interval and complete workout....but YOUR FEEDBACK is still IMPORTANT.


Because it provides CONTEXT and allows me to make an informed decision on your next training session(s). Falling performance during a session could be because you got no sleep last night or it could be that the performance targets were set too high. Unless you tell me I just can't work that our from a set of graphs!!

To get the most of your coaching relationship you need to think of it as a two way process. If you all reacted the same way to each session then this coaching lark would be easy and it would be called football!

Have a great weekend everyone. Good luck to all those racing and taking part in events this coming weekend and have fun watching my favourite race of the year the Liege Bastogne Liege this weekend.