by Mark Sortino
Although I have been using ithlete with athletes for well over a year, I was excited to introduce it to our entire coaching staff and athletes at Team MPI with a multi-year Partnership between Team MPI and ithlete. This convinced an athlete I had worked with for five years to finally give it a go.
The athlete is an elite age-group triathlete and runner in her late 30’s. She’s a Mom, a Wife and a fulltime Surgeon. Yes, she does all that and still finds time to train – sound familiar? Working for her as her coach over the years has been extremely rewarding and very challenging. She obviously doesn’t have a lot of time to train, yet her goals and expectations are very high. Adding to the complexity of this equation is her varying work schedule that requires her to be on her feet using maximum brain power for up to 14+ hours a day.
Our goal for this past winter was a marathon with 4 smaller run races leading into it. We were trying a different type of training plan that varied the volume and reduced her cycling and swimming to only once a week. We had success at all of the four shorter races leading into the marathon but wound up having a poor marathon race, and we weren’t sure why.
- For November and December, although you can clearly see her roller coaster “life” in the average blue line, there was a general improvement with her numbers.
- January began what was ultimately a month and a half period of gradual fatigue.
- Additionally, the purple arrows are her shorter races in which she did well. However, note the rapid drop in her average immediately after each of those races INCLUDING the final arrow representing her marathon.
As we both looked at this, we discovered a few things:
- She was fatiguing each week more and more without us knowing it
- The fatigue was due to all of her life “events”: personal, kids, wife and work as a surgeon
- Our experiment with a different training plan was beneficial for the short term (November and December), but may have loaded too much on her too early and thus partly caused the downward, negative trend from January to marathon.
- Her numbers were always poor the day before and the day of the events. In most cases, this was not due to any training load as we mini-tapered into each event.
- She gets extremely anxious about racing. This showed for each and every reading the day before and day of an event.
With this knowledge, we have taken a few steps:
- She’s now working with a sports psychologist at Team MPI to learn new tools for dealing with her extra anxiety before events.
- Focusing on daily self-awareness is critical for her to make independent and responsible decisions on whether she should train as I’ve written or make changes on her own.
- We will no longer take reading on the day of an event as this adds to her anxiousness.
- We learned not to employ the same training plan in the future!
Using ithlete with this athlete has been a tremendous asset for both of us. Performing at her level with the exceptional, daily commitments she has requires us to be super flexible on how and when we recover and absorb training. ithlete has opened a new window for us to view her overall wellness on a daily basis – separate from training. We now have more tools for the challenging 2017 season ahead!
Mark Sortino is a USA Triathlon Level III Coach, USA Cycling Level II Coach, F.I.S.T. certified bike fitter and certified USAT Race Director who is also the co-founder and CEO of Team MPI. Mark has been the Head Coach of Team USA Paratriathlon since 2012 and has coached Paralympic Triathletes and Cyclist, Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championship qualifiers along with National and World Champion ITU Paratriathletes. Mark is also a US Veteran having served 20 years in the US Navy as a Naval Flight Officer and is graduate of the US Naval Academy. Mark can be reached at mark@teamMPI.com. Find out more at www.TeamMPI.com.