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Differences in coaching women
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Up front I want to say that I'm not positioning something here to pitch a coaching service. Just want to get that out of the way.

Last night I was having a discussion with my wife about how I'm going to help her work up a winter cycling training plan to do road racing next year. Part of the discussion was about whether there are gender consideration in putting together a plan. This seemed interesting to me because I suspect that most cycling coaches just have women do the same thing as men, albeit adjusted for their own FTP, and don't give it a second thought.

About the only thing I could think of offhand was that if you are using a 4 week build phase that you would want to be aware of menstruation and possibly plan for it during the recovery week. I'm curious to hear input from you all. Are there things about typical training plans that seem like they are made for men, but don't make as much sense for women? Anything you would do differently?
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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I like that you're asking this question.

I believe you shouldn't worry about female athletes menstrual cycle. Sounds like a good idea, but I wouldn't. It really shouldn't get in the way of a good workout. IMO

I do believe women have more fear issues. For example, I want a coach to help me overcome speed and descents or teach me to take a corner faster.

I really like your question and will put more thought to it tomorrow. I have to leave ST for now, but will return to this great question tomorrow.
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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I agree that you don't have to factor in a woman's menstruation cycle. Shouldn't get in the way. If it does, then it's just one of those things that the athlete has to handle such as having a sick kid at home, being up late finishing a work project or getting sick. Also every woman is different and their cycle is different so you can't assume it's going to be regular and it's always going to affect the woman the same way every month.
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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In the list of things that matter most for writing a plan for someone I'd say it goes:

experience
time commitment ability
desire/goals
personality

then gender.

Gender matters a hell of a lot less than these other things. The only thing I can think of that actually has any kind of research to back it up is that women, especially masters women, appear to benefit more, cycling-performance-wise, from weight training.

Other than that, nope. Unless she's got like hella horrible menstrual cramps but since she's your wife you would probably know these details.
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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Good question.

I have pretty significantly decreased performance around my period--two days before and first two days of, and I do take that into account when planning my training and, to an extent, my races, though I haven't been regular enough to really do that. It may just be something to ask your athletes about.

I think being aware of potential menopause symptoms, and how they might impact training, may be important too.

Iron issues are more prevalent in women endurance athletes (like 4 or 5:1), so I would keep that in mind if you see unexplained decrease in performance or if your athlete is complaining of fatigue.

Amenorrhea from uber low body fat would be something to watch for and manage with a doc.
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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From research, it seems that adding some weight training is important. I think someone else wrote that as well.

Other than that, I think it's just a normal finding out what works best with the specific type of personality.
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Re: Differences in coaching women [Push] [ In reply to ]
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Push wrote:
Good question.

I have pretty significantly decreased performance around my period--two days before and first two days of, and I do take that into account when planning my training and, to an extent, my races, though I haven't been regular enough to really do that. It may just be something to ask your athletes about.

I think being aware of potential menopause symptoms, and how they might impact training, may be important too.

Iron issues are more prevalent in women endurance athletes (like 4 or 5:1), so I would keep that in mind if you see unexplained decrease in performance or if your athlete is complaining of fatigue.

Amenorrhea from uber low body fat would be something to watch for and manage with a doc.

All of these are very good points. I'd also add that women still do a majority of the work around the house so be extra sensitive to schedule issues.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Jen - @ultragrrl

"In order to keep a true perspective on one's importance, everyone should have a dog that worships him and a cat that will ignore him." - Dereke Bruce
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Re: Differences in coaching women [Push] [ In reply to ]
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Push wrote:
Good question.

I have pretty significantly decreased performance around my period--two days before and first two days of, and I do take that into account when planning my training and, to an extent, my races, though I haven't been regular enough to really do that. It may just be something to ask your athletes about.

I think being aware of potential menopause symptoms, and how they might impact training, may be important too.

Iron issues are more prevalent in women endurance athletes (like 4 or 5:1), so I would keep that in mind if you see unexplained decrease in performance or if your athlete is complaining of fatigue.

Amenorrhea from uber low body fat would be something to watch for and manage with a doc.

Likewise, and I always put this in my training notes to my coach, because there is quite a dramatic dip in my energy levels around this time too.



"Though she be but little, she is fierce" ~Shakespeare | Powered by HD Coaching | 2014 Wattie Ink Triathlon Team | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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you might have to factor in the period. It never fails for me that the day before my period I'm spent. No energy. For some weird reason my period showed up a week early last time. it was race day. I had no idea why I was so tired through the swim and wanted to sleep on the run (it was an olympic distance race). The next day I got my period. My period is usually very regular and I'm on a hormonal BC so it should be regular, but for some reason it wasn't, not that I can plan for that, but it reiterated the fact that the day before I'm tired. I don't swim the day before because I just get frustrated with feeling tired, I usually just do an easy run and/or an easy ride where I don't look at pace/watts.

People are different but I know quite a few women who have the same issue I have the day before the period or the first day. Usually after that everything is fine, so you might not have to take the whole week into consideration, but there might be a day or two to plan for. You don't want to waste a day trying to do a hard workout when you know you probably can't, use that as active recovery.
Last edited by: GhiaGirl: Oct 14, 13 20:58
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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This is a great thread, thanks for posting original question.

As a coach, you should encourage your rider to have an excellent relationship with a Doctor in regards to menstrual cycle and her health. Have her Dr. review that training plan and consult with her on volume and intensity. Follow up midway thru the plan with bloodwork and review.

For myself, rarely did it affect me, but sometimes, just as Ghia Girl mentioned, I'd have a pre-or-during menstrual cycle feeling of being absolutely drained. But really what was going on I have no idea, what is the affect of hormones on your mental state vs. physical? Ah, then the next day I'm fine.

Anne Barnes
ABBikefit, Ltd
FIST/SICI/FIST DOWN DEEP
X/Y Coordinator
abbikefit@gmail.com
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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This is interesting. I'm curious if there's been any studies or research on the gender training differences. I would think there would be, but I don't know exactly what they would be. Most of the differences I've seen have been on the mental/psychological side.

kelly dunleavy o'mara
@kellydomara
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Re: Differences in coaching women [kellydomara] [ In reply to ]
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I watched a free webinar presented by Jason Karp called Running for Women sponsored by Human Kinetics. In the webinar, he discussed the anatomical, physiological, hormonal, and metabolic differences between males and females, and how the menstrual cycle and its constant fluctuation of hormones influences many aspects of a woman’s physiology, including oxygen consumption, body temperature, hydration, bone health, and metabolism. All of which influence females’ response to training. While several folks that watched found him a bit misogynistic at times, I thought it provided some good information. You can view it at the link below.

http://www.humankinetics.com/...ow-running-for-women
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Re: Differences in coaching women [instigator] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks. I've talked to Jason before; he seems like he knows stuff. You're going to have a hard time tackling that topic, though, without sounded misogynistic.

kelly dunleavy o'mara
@kellydomara
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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I don't have issues w/ menstruation - at most a day off change. But ask your wife about what she needs as some of the women here seem to need an extra day or two.

I agree w/ above about fear issues. I'm an absolute chicken on descending.

A little extra weight work might be necessary to avoid injury.

Also - I'm wondering if there's a difference in recovery? Women have less testosterone so may not recover at same rate. I train w/ 4-5 men, and they all seem to recover from a hard work / race much faster than I do. This could just be an individual thing - but may be gender related.
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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Not exactly about coaching. But this article suggests that the psychology of women and men may also be different:

http://online.wsj.com/...04579163672734229740
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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All of the comments above are issues that could possibly face a female athlete. However, they are not guaranteed and a few of them are not exactly gender specific. Women are physiologically different than men, but we are just as different from one another as well. I would say that issues concerning cycles, hormones, psychology, etc are all part of the collage that makes up each individual athlete, as is personality, build, lifestyle, background, etc. One woman is as different from another woman as she is from a man. Gender is a factor because a man will never go through menopause and a woman will never end up with prostate issues but then gender is in no way a guarantee that those issues will arise. I think the biggest thing is that a coach is as knowledgeable about gender specific challenges as he/she is about non-gender specific challenges and then coaches each athlete based on their own personal recipe of strengths and weaknesses.

________________________________________________

Coach Brain: Accelerate 3 ; Incoherent Ramblings
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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I'd also take into consideration some aspects of personality/psyche. Women tend to be very stubborn, and most are inherently coachable - most coaches I have had in many sports have said they prefer to coach women because they listen and take advice well (usually - there's always an exception :-)). Also: women tend to take a bad performance as "just not my day" or "better field than me today" whereas many men will think "I didn't train hard enough".

I'm not a psychologist, but there are definite mental/emotional differences in coaching. Lots of literature out there.

Just don't expect her to train with you all the time :-)

AP

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"How bad could it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Differences in coaching women [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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I just wanted to say that I've really appreciated all the input that has been offered here. My example of menstruation was just an off the top of my head clear different experience between men and women, but the key take away that I get here is that you have to coach everyone individually. This doesn't change between men and women, but I do think men more likely will have similar mental dispositions toward training, confidence and outcomes. I wouldn't want to over generalize about women's experiences because their are always exceptions, but I'm seeing that a male coach has to take extra care to not assume that a woman thinks about training and competition the same way they do.

Great feedback and an interesting topic. Thanks everyone.
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