Here is a subject that I had no intention of writing about next, but it keeps coming up. Individualized training is something I see repeatedly on social media, I hear it in conversations with others, and it’s even been the topic of many conversations lately, around my own dinner table. Individualized training does not just apply to triathlons and marathons: it applies to almost all things in life. It has been proven to be beneficial in most aspects of life such as education, technical training, fitness, and just about anything else you can think of. When we try to use cookie cutter plans to educate or train people or athletes, we find lack of improvement in many.
This is an area where, in my opinion, the internet has failed us as students, athletes, educators, trainers, and coaches. A simple internet search will bring up a lot of plans or instructions on how to accomplish just about anything, but picking a generic training plan without filtering or assessment can lead to failure. Someone who doesn’t know any better may blame the plan, which may have been a fine plan for another person, but not a good fit for them. We are all different and it doesn’t make sense to pretend that we’re not.
Another problem with the internet is one that I see almost daily on social media, comments by people claiming that all people need to be trained or educated the same way. One I often see is coaches saying, “I have all my athletes do this”, or “all athletes need to do this”, or many other all-inclusive statements. My wife is an artist and sees it within her groups, as well. We tend to think that if something works for us, or it worked on one athlete that we trained, it must be the way that everyone should do it. There are many different ways to do most things, though. We do other aspiring athletes, students, or even artists a disservice when we teach that there is only one way to do something, and that it is our way. And sure, a lot of people mean well when they throw their absolutes out there, but it makes me cringe. If I do answer someone’s question in an online forum, I like to add, “this is what works for me”, instead of saying, “this is what you need to do”.
I do believe that there are certain things that everyone needs to do. Initial assessments need to be completed by all in order to see where they are and help them to set goals. You need to know where you are in order to find out the best way to get where you’re going. We all have different starting points and it’s important to take that into consideration. We also have different availability for training or education, as well as different desired outcomes. These are just some of the reasons why individualized training is important. Not everything is one size fits all. It doesn’t work with clothing, so why would we think it would work in things like education and training