How to Get Your Athletes to Record Their Data

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 | By Stephen Hancock
 
 
 
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“How do I get my clients to log their workouts?”

I hear this question over and over again. I sometimes find this hard to understand because I am that guy that steps out the door, all ready for a workout, go to turn my Garmin 910xt on and BAM - I see that the watch is dead and I go back inside. It’s just that important to me. I admit, sometimes that a workout gets missed because I won’t have the data. I will log that I didn’t go do the workout because some knucklehead did not charge their watch. I know, I know, I have issues - but I bet there’s more than one person reading this who can relate.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that sometimes it is difficult to get clients to “tell” you what they are doing in the form of timely uploads. You need to know how they are performing, how they are responding, and if they are in compliance. All three of these things have an effect on what and how you plan for them in the future. So, how do you get your athletes to help you, help them?

First, I would suggest setting up expectations from the very start of the relationship. Impress upon your new client that you expect to receive their feedback in a timely manner. Explain to them “why” it is important for you to receive this information from them. If you have an existing client that you have these challenges with already, then have the same conversation with them as you would if they were just starting to work with you. If you have already had this “talk” with them a couple of times and see no improvement...well, that is another topic for another article.

Second, encourage them to use a training device and get interested in the data. Uploading and seeing numbers after a workout can be rewarding. Why is a forklift operator one of the top fulfilling jobs in America? It is because, at the end of the day, the operator can see what they have done. Training data acts in the same way. We can see what we did and it is actually a form of immediate feedback, telling us how we did in an objective way. Explain this to your client so they see the value of having a device to record their training. (By the way, if they’re in the market for a new device you can direct them to our newTrainingPeaks Retail Store, where they can purchase devices bundled with Premium TrainingPeaks subscriptions).

Third, simply explain the economics to them. I go with a true, personal story here. I had 2 athletes I was coaching at the same time one year. One would write down, record, and upload everything that happened in her day. If she is not successful, then that is my fault. My other athlete had never logged into his TrainingPeaks account and solely relied on the nightly email to tell him what he had to do. He trained with Power and HR, so I could have gotten some great data from him.

So, I had to have a conversation with him about economics. The conversation went something like this:

"David, you are paying me $200 a month to train you so that you can reach your goals and be successful. However, if you’re not logging your rests from your workouts and uploading your device data, then I have absolutely no idea how to write your future workouts. I need to know what you have done, if you did it, and how you responded to the workouts and understand any cumulative effect - good or bad.”

“Right now, you are getting about $50 worth of my service. You are allowing me to let you fail. I can pull workouts out of (let's say “the air” for this reenactment) and do it pretty quickly. But, I need you to allow me to provide all of my services to you. And currently, simply put, you are not - so you are failing yourself and allowing me to fail you."

It is sometimes a pretty candid and blunt conversation that just needs to be had with clients. A coach and athlete relationship is akin to a marriage. It takes two - both parties - fully committed to achieving a goal. Sometimes it is hard to tell who is happier when an athlete hits a huge milestone - them or us. I don't think they always get that.

So, think about really encouraging your clients to get you that feedback and let them know why it is so important to you. Put some rhyme behind your reason. Make sure they understand that you’re a stakeholder in their journey too and that you care about their success. Have those sometimes uncomfortable conversations and light a fire under them if need be.

I hear about this complaint more often than not when talking with coaches, and I have experienced this dilemma myself. I hope this helps give you some new ideas should you find yourself struggling with getting your clients to log their workouts. Good luck!

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