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  • Writer's pictureJo Clubb

Notes From: Monitoring #TrainingLoad16 at Aspire Academy

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

I wasn’t going to write a blog post on this week’s Training Load Monitoring conference held at Aspire because all the presentations will apparently be made available online, plus all the papers presented will be published in a special edition of IJSPP next year (which by the way is such a fantastic idea and one I hope many events will adopt going forward). Clearly there was no need for a post… But I just couldn’t help myself… As many others at the conference also pointed out…

So I will not be sharing specific content from the individual presentations as hopefully you will be able to watch and read these for yourselves soon. Plus there are also plenty of resources on Twitter if you search for #TrainingLoad16 (which was in fact trending during the conference!) But I will be sharing some of the themes that I think stood out across three days of outstanding talks.

You can find the full programme here.

Dose-response relationship is central to what we are trying to do, after all it is only monitoring if you are considering both the load and the response. We focus a lot on monitoring the dose, but how the (individual) players respond must also be considered. Individual variation in itself as well was of course a consistent theme.

The “Hair in the yogurt test“: If your athletes have their heads down at breakfast, half asleep with their hair falling into their morning yogurt, perhaps that is enough of a sign that they need some rest and recovery. Likewise if they are bouncing around telling jokes perhaps there is scope to work them more.

This leads on nicely to wellness and never forgetting to just ask the athlete how they are feeling, rather than relying on technology. Obviously this acknowledgement of the human side was promoted by the psychologist, but it was also reinforced by the Sport Scientists consistently throughout the conference. Often our monitoring of training load and/or wellness is just a vehicle to start a conversation.

Coach education and relationships are CRUCIAL! It was widely stressed that we are here to support the coach, not to tell them what to do. The presenters gave many reasons why monitoring load might be useful to the coach but first and foremost was this notion that we need to make ourselves useful to them. We are here to support the best piece of technology available… the coach “Eyeometer”!

The Session RPE debate raged on. It seems to be a bit like marmite (or vegimite to our friends Down Under), some swore by it and others greatly questioned its use. However, it seemed those that did question it, had employed it within their own environment and come to this conclusion based on their own first hand experience and the application within their specific setting.

Know and question your technology, do not just take the values that come out of the black box at face value. Understanding the signal and the noise in GPS was particularly emphasised by Martin Buchheit in terms of validity and reliability and by Matthew Varley in terms of metrics and settings in the software.

Overtraining does not exist in team sports.” This statement was echoed by a number of presenters, including those from both team sport and endurance backgrounds.

Back to the future!! Consider this; athletes and coaches have been monitoring their training with stop watches long before the birth of wearables, Eric Banister was modeling the Fitness/Fatigue relationship back in 1975, Carl Foster published work on RPE, monotony, overtraining etc in the 1990s. Aaron Coutts showed excerpts of textbooks from 20+ years ago that included terminology such as “training stress balance”, “fitness fatigue relationship”, “warm ups” and “exercise heart rate” to only name a few. Maybe we need to stop trying to reinvent the wheel, respect the work that has gone before us and just focus on trying to apply this work in our own environments.

So just a few summary thoughts jotted down at the airport on the way home! Thanks to everyone at Aspire for an exceptional event and I look forward to watching and reading the resources that follow.


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