There is a plethora of gadgets, gizmos. and devices today which track everything and anything… heart rate, skin temperature, breathing volume, pace, GPS location, distance, speed, cadence, watts, calories, etc… etc…
This is quantified training; training which can be plotted on a graph, manipulated, compared and contrasted on a spreadsheet, uploaded to the internet. Objective data provides outcome measures, but that is all that it provides. It provides the what, but not the how, at least not when it comes to the quality of the movement, the ease with which power was generated, the calmness of the mind the athlete had available to them to meet challenges during the competition.
There is a problem with objective data, with a focus on outcome devoid of any other factor being relevant to deriving peak performance. The ‘how’ fades to the background. The ‘how’: the technique, the form, the posture, the mental and emotional state in which training is performed and the athlete competes becomes irrelevant, and with it the leveraging forces which take physical training from one level and elevate it to consistent peak performance are eliminated.
Watching age group and master athletes, listening to coaches today, the obsession with short term results, the compulsion to cause, force, strain, til an outcome is obtained reveals that we have taken sport too far into the scientific realm with all our metrics, and have forgotten that human movement in all its forms is equally art.
The Olympics, a World Championship event, any of the Tours in cycling or the Opens in Tennis display the gap, the widening gap between sports as performed by age groupers and masters, and those on the national and international level. There are few if any athletes at the highest level which perform their sport with brute force, muscling, grinding their way to the podium.
Yet how many age group and master athletes and coaches train in a manner mirroring the desired outcome displayed on the international level? No. Age groupers and masters seem bent on driving their bodies to deliver more power, more speed, greater endurance, but without any heed of how they move, the quality with which they move, whether their movement is fluid, and arises easily or whether it is constantly in a fight against inflexibility, stiffness, rigidity, both in body, in mind and in spirit.
Swinging entirely to the opposite end, where movement is entirely art is not the solution for sports either. There are objective measures determining the level of performance in sport, so goals must meet these objective measures as well.
The solution is a balance between quantified training and quality training.
The problem which arises for most athletes is that quality training requires a coach, and not just any coach. It requires a competent and capable individual able to assess quality of human movement AND provide a solution appropriate to the skill level and capacity of the athlete; an individual with specific progressions from start to finish on how to modify and improve the quality of the athlete’s movement.
If you are searching for a higher level of performance, and quantified training has resulted in a seemingly inescapable plateau, then consider consulting or contracting a coach/health professional experienced in human physiology, biomechanics, and sport specific technique to evaluate your current level, with the goal of providing insight onto where and how your technique can be improved. You may be amazed at how much more there is to training than simply puking up data… splits, wattage, lap times, whatever.