Esmaspäev, 3. veebruar 2014

Training planning the way it should be

Last week Sportlyzer introduced a brand new version of our training planner tool for coaches. It looks a bit similar to the old planner and still maintains basically the same "Excel-like" workflow, which so many coaches love. This time we focused on giving coaches even more detail for every week and every workout they plan. We also introduced a new feature we like to call "Workout template", which will hopefully make the life of so many coaches easier. I have been ridiculously excited about this new planner since I saw its first drawings and prototypes in the early November of 2013 and I have waited for this blogpost since they released the first beta-version for testers approximately a month ago. Here is why:

Our aim was to make training-planning for single athletes and whole training groups as fast and easy as possible. We wanted our planner to boost the efficiency of training and season planning by delivering advanced features and a growing level of detail, which we have not seen at any other training planning platform.
Take advantage of every inch of your screen to create training plans that will bring your athletes success!


The basics
This set of features was mostly already available for the last planner as well. I will still give a short overview for those, who might not be familiar with the old planner and point out 2 new features, which were made for the new planner.
Speaking about the "basics" I speak about the fundamental tools, Sportlyzer offers to create a long-term plan for athletes or training groups. First, you start with your goals or competitions, which you are preparing for. This will be your anchor points for how you want to plan your season and when you want raise the amount of training and when to rest - this is your strategy.
Depending on how long your season is and in which part of the preparation your are starting to plan, you will want to divide your plan into different cycles - most commonly named "General preparation", "Specific preparation" and "Race Season" (but you can also be as specific as "Training camps", "Speed preparation", "Endurance training", etc.). Now you already have a great view of how your season will probably look like and you can always come back and make changes if something doesn't go "according to plan".








What's new?
First you will recognise, that competitions are no longer linked to specific workouts, which gives you much more freedom in describing your competitions. Let's say you are planning on competing at a tournament, which goes on for multiple days. In the old planner you had to add a competition for each day of the tournament and for each race or game individually. It also forced you to specify duration and other things, which might not be relevant for you while planning. This was annoying so we changed it and added some more useful fields instead.
The second new feature, which already has been out there for a couple of weeks, is "Events". You can use events to describe all sorts of seminars, lectures, gatherings, etc., which doesn't have anything to do with training at the first point, but are still a part of the training planning process. For example you might want to "highlight" the athletes birthday (or you own) to create a "special birthday workout" for that day.


Diving deeper
Now you have the big picture and it is time to go to "the real stuff" and plan some actual training. You will recognise the "Excel-like" structure of the training planner, which looks similar to the old one, but gives you way more detail from the first moment on. To focus every inch of your screen on training planning, we created a wider and cleaner view for individual training planning and moved the comparison between planned and done training to another view. You will find a new "Effort" field, which is meant to describe the intensity of the workout from the perspective of the coach. That way it will be possible to compare it with the subjective intensity of the athlete after the workout and will create a better understanding of the workout.
We also added weekly summaries to the right of the input forms. This is a great help to keep an eye on training distribution between different disciplines. As a triathlete I am always concerned whether I am doing enough running and enough swimming or too much cycling. This sneaky little thing on the right will help me keep an eye on that. It also contains the "target duration", which comes from the strategy that I wrote about in the previous paragraph.



Operations like copying and pasting workouts, days or whole weeks has been made easier using the little blue submenu to the right of each row. You can copy and paste single workouts, days or even weeks. Copy-pasting works not only in the context of one athlete, but you can also copy the workouts of athlete A and paste them into the diary of athlete B. It's a great way to save time while planning!

If you select "Save as template" it will open up a whole new set of opportunities for you. If you use it right, it will become one "great playground" and save you a huge amount of time!!!



Workout templates
Templates are great! It makes planning so much easier and so much fun. Using templates is basically like copy/pasting with a memory. Every coach and every athlete has his or her favourite workouts and workouts, which they repeat constantly. It would be great, if instead of copy/pasting every single one of these workouts, I only need to drag them out of a box and drop them on a specific day. I call it accelerating training planning by 200% as I will never ever have to write a workout any more, since I will just drag and drop them out of a box. If necessary I will make small adjustments, but mostly I think my 75min Fartlek run, will remain a 75min Fartlek run for a very long time.
And this is what the new planner is about. Stop wasting your time writing and thinking and recalculating and start drag and dropping your training plan according to your strategy and the training cycle you are in. You will never be able to do everything 100% like you planned, but you will be able to adjust your plan in a couple of minutes and still stay on the right course.





Where do we go from here?
We will not stop here. We already are working on more sneaky little tools and features, which will allow coaches to observe and plan the training process of their athletes in a more convenient way and with less headache (at least less headache because of unnecessary paperwork).
In order to stay on the right course we would love the feedback of as many coaches as possible. So, if you are a coach and you would like to contribute to our work, send us an email hello@sportlyzer.com. If you are an athlete reading this post and you want your coach to give Sportlyzer a try, send us an email with your name, the name and email of your coach and we will talk to him.


Also keep in mind, that we all a human and we tend to make mistakes. If you find any bugs or fault behaviour with the new planner, please send us an email hello@sportlyzer.com, or report it to our forum and we will fix it as soon as possible.

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