Coming off the back of a couple of tough years of COVID, with ruined race plans and disjointed training sessions - the benefits of squad training has never been more apparent.
Accountability, social interaction, motivation, competition, re-assurance, education, live coaching….all the benefits of squad training are there.
The benefits of group training:
· Accountability: having made the effort to sign up for a designated session with a set time to start makes it more likely you will get it done. No need to procrastinate – the coaches have done the organising so you just have to sign up and show up!
· Social interaction – the meet-up may be often be virtual but through the use of Discord its possible to chat and coach the session live while your avatars get to know each other in Watopia!
· Motivation – training together, racing together or simply FOMO, group training has it covered. An endurance ride in the depth of winter can be daunting but not with the squad at hand!
· Competition – this often brings out the best in us. So, when appropriate, your coach is likely to utilise race scenarios or group workouts to allow athletes to push each other to new personal bests.
· Re-assurance – when the going gets tough it’s a welcome sight to see (and hear) others suffering alongside you. It gives you added confidence that you can push through and succeed. Workouts are of mixed ability and yet you can all train together which simply isn’t possible in real life.
· Education – occasionally this is formal/pre-arranged and other times you can tap into the experience of your coaches and fellow athletes. Endurance rides allow plenty of time to discuss tri-related topics.
· Live coaching – although left til last this is possibly the jewel in the crown, every session is led by a coach who will help you to get the most from the session. Larger training organisations have the ability to share the workload of delivering quality sessions for all athletes which is simply next level in the triathlon coaching sphere. Why have 1 Coach when you can have access to many?
STILL NOT CONVINCED?
1. How can my training plan be individualised and still allow me to train with everyone else?
Most coaches will devise sessions that are prescribed through an online platform like Training Peaks (TP) with power targets and comments/instructions that are specific to you.
However, the main goal of the session and the interval structure will remain the same as the group. The workout you load will be yours from Training Peaks. It is easier to create a group atmosphere during the off-season as a polarised approach to training suits this time of the year and there are very few athletes in race build blocks.
2. What if I don’t have Zwift?
You can still be a part of the sessions! Workouts can be downloaded to your bike computer (e.g. Garmin or Wahoo) or other training platform (e.g. Trainerroad). Through the discord app you can still listen in to live coaching as you ride.
3. What if I don’t have a Smart trainer or power meter?
You can still be accommodated into these sessions. As above my coaches use Discord to guide you through the session. In this instance we will refer to perceived exertion (RPE), cadence and HR to ensure you hit your targets.
4. What if I’m not tech savvy and all this talk of Zwift and Discord worries me?
Each individual coach will be able to talk you through the set-up and hopefully provide educational and informative videos for you to refer to. A comprehensive guide can take you through each step of your on-line cycling training process.