Saturday, October 27, 2012

One Year with Performance Coaching Services

This October marked a full calendar year since I started working with team sponsor, Rob Acciavatti of Performance Coaching Services. The training year covered mostly all of the targeted specifics, such as prep work, off-season, building up, peaking and recovery. Since this was my first year training with an actual coach (as opposed to using a book) and since I often am asked how things are going with Rob, I wanted to take a moment to perform a review of his services and what it was like for me to be on his plans for a full season.

In short, here were some of the advantages and disadvantages I found while working with Rob.

Advantages
  • You will get faster. Period.
  • Flexibility to holiday and work-related travel.
  • Structure. 
Disadvantages
  • Structure. 
Obviously anyone who trains with some sort of plan does so to get faster. With a plan with Rob, there is no doubt, as long as you follow the plan, you will get faster. In my case, i noticed significant increases in top-end power in the past season. As such, I was able to earn about half of the upgrade points towards a Cat 2, in my first year as a Cat 3, which isn't too shabby. Nowhere was this most evident than in my finishes in sprints and criteriums this past season. More to the point, I had stated beforehand that I felt one of my perceived weaknesses was sprinting and ramping up even higher during a hard effort. Now, I feel very confident in these areas.

Additionally, for me, the added structure of not having to come up with the plan by myself, was a huge help. Contrast to working from a book (which I had done in the year prior), I was often left wondering what workouts should go where and if I was truly planning efficiently. I found myself understanding the purpose and progression of workouts better by putting my faith in the plan from Rob and see it deliver over time. Rob was also tremendously helpful in dealing with travel plans from for personal or work related reasons, such that these days would be built in for rest. 

Structure however, is a two-way street. Over the course of the spring and summer months, I lost the ability to do a lot of social or local rides that really make the Morgantown cycling community what it is. In particular, I rarely was able to ride pedal for pints (only on recovery weeks) and had to stop attending the hammer ride because it was too exhausting. While in theory, I could still attend these events and tone it down, lets be realistic - its incredibly hard for any cyclist to truly ride below their capabilities and call it an "easy" day. It's just not smart. That being said, I really felt that Rob does a great job of mixing things up so you aren't doing the same type of ride or intervals all the time. Even then, I grew to love some workouts just to geek out on numbers, no matter how exhausting they were.

In summary, if anyone is serious about riding faster, developing strengths, and limiting weaknesses, Rob and Performance Coaching Services is a great resource to consider. Highly recommended. But, you need to be not just prepared for physical pain, but honest with yourself to prevent mental burnout. If you only have X hours to train over a week, don't say you can do more. In fact, assume less. As a Ph.D student, I don't have 15+ hours a week to train. Rarely do I even have 10. But you can accomplish a lot in the time you do have, by following the plan. If you need to have a social ride built in, make it known beforehand rather than trying to fit it in. Otherwise you run the risk of physical or mental burnout, which can ruin months of work, both past and future. But if you do it right, you'll always be ready (and eager) for more.