Your programming should line up with your personal goals, needs as an athlete, and who you are as a person, or you might find yourself stressed out, on a plateau, or generally unhappy.
- Goals – if your program doesn’t align with your goals, there won’t be the sense of accomplishment needed to feel good about training. Some people are content with changes in body composition and improvements in performance – these are the primary accomplishments they are looking for, and forcing competitive goals on them is demotivating and creates a immense amount of stress. . The flip side of this are athletes driven by concrete competitive goals – top 100 in the Region, going to Regionals, going to the Games, winning the games. Improvements in performance are exciting, but those improvements need to be backed up by concrete competitive standing to be of personal value.
- Needs as an Athlete – There can be a considerable difference between an athlete who wants to make it to Regionals of the Games and an athlete of that caliber. A relatively new athlete with significant holes in their abilities shouldn’t follow a Regional level program. An athlete who needs to build a larger GPP base shouldn’t follow a competitive level program. An athlete with very specific needs shouldn’t follow a generalized program (more on this later). If a program doesn’t fit where you’re at as an athlete, it will lead to stress, stagnation, injury or boredom.
- What You Value – Do you like fun? Your program should be fun. Do you like variety? Your program should have variety. Do you like logic and consistency? Look for those things. Are you competitive? Be competitive. Assuming that the program is following good principles of training, aligning your programming with who you are as a person makes for a more meaningful (and beneficial) experience.
Now just because you are stressed out, on a plateau, or generally unhappy with your training doesn’t mean that the programming is to blame. You might be a basketcase in an unhealthy relationship with fitness, on a plateau that everyone experiences in training at some point, or you are a generally unhappy person. But the other side of the coin is that maybe you’re doing what you should be doing, and evaluating your goals, your needs, and your values can help get you on the right track.