For both the JetBlack athlete and the coach testing during a training programme is absolutely vital. It exposes strengths and weaknesses of athletes and enables efficient training as coaches very carefully tailor training programmes to suit.
Testing can be designed for anyone; you do not need to be a professional athlete. What you do need is an understanding of what and why you are testing and what you will do with the results.
When to test
Your training programme will most likely be structured in blocks targeting different components of fitness and training systems. Testing is normally at the beginning and end of each block with the ultimate test being your big event at the end! Training does not always go to plan and sometimes blocks need to be re-structured, this is where mid week testing can help as it tracks progress and provides measurable feedback to both athlete and coach. Technology can make things a little easier with software such as Training peaks, map my run/cycle and gadgets like power meters, HR monitors and GPS computers but do not fret as a good old manual logbook and perceived rate of exertion still counts for a lot!
Although it helps immensely to have a coach to plan testing and interpret test data for you, if you don’t have one there is plenty of information available to assist you. This includes comparing your results against normative data that has been collected. It is easy to go with a known test as it’s more often than not protocol based so we know the accuracy and validity of it.
Types of testing
It depends a lot on your sport as you want to keep it as specific as possible. There are lab tests which are very accurate, can be difficult to access and often very expensive and there are field tests which are not as accurate but are still productive, accessible and cheap. Most testing is based around time trials for Swim, Run, and Bike. One of the best ways of testing is competing at local events specific to your main end goal. Athletes should aim to achieve personal bests here rather than competing against others. This will occur naturally as you push yourself towards achieving your PBs.
You may have heard words like VO2 Max and Anaerobic Threshold testing being bantered about. Stay tuned to our JetBlack Coaching website for specific test information aimed at the beginner level.
As used in our JetBlack training App, the recovery test is an easy way to monitor your fitness. After a hard interval session or ride, stop and see how much your heart rate drops over 1 min. As you get fitter you will notice a bigger reduction in heart rate. Simple and very cheap!!!!!!
Although testing has many benefits including safety and motivation the frequency of testing should take into consideration the negative impact if the test was not administered properly or results are not as expected. This can have a huge effect on the athlete and can also place pressure on the athlete – coach relationship.
On occasion testing has also been used as a way of talent identification although this method alone is not completely reliable.
Roadie, Mountain Biker, Triathlete….it doesn’t matter. Monitor for progress and training as it’s not worth training if you are not improving. Test is the best way to do this.
So what are you waiting for get out there and TEST you never know you may be an Olympian in the making!