9/16/21: Training plans, forecasts, and nailing your core assumptions

Sent 9/16/21


  • My article Your Race Result May Hang on One Word was published on PodiumRunner, but it's behind their paywall. I discuss the two types of word cues and how to build them into your race prep.

This week's Think Better Newsletter is about not getting overly focused on the details when you plan. 

The Idea

Part of my new job is building a forecast of how many products will be sold by each account in my region. I was handed a bunch of giant Excel models and told I should feel free to modify them however I want in order to make them mine. And a few colleagues shared their models with me so I can see how they do it.

Even though the inputs of a forecast are the same--recent performance, market trends, seasonality, known events--everyone's models are a little different. As are the formulas, pivot tables and mapping data that drive the actual calculations. One shared objective, with infinite options for how to achieve it.

Oh, and one more thing: it's never "right."

A forecast is just a set of well-considered assumptions that, when combined, gives you a number that looks authoritative and specific. It's not unlike building a training plan.

We have a set of inputs we need to account for (our current fitness, our available time, external obligations, etc). There are a few fundamental components that we need to build in: endurance runs, speed work, strength training, recovery. And we have an objective to achieve. 

When we combine them all together we get something that looks authoritative and specific. This many miles on each day, these intervals in these times with this much rest, and progression that follows a well-defined curve.

But we shouldn't get overly stressed about the specific workouts. If we've made the right assumptions the details can (and will) change.

The System

It's much more important to know what your core assumptions are than what the specific numbers are. The details should make sense when the assumptions make sense. When the details seem off, talk through your assumptions with your coach.

Is the mileage in the ballpark? Are you giving yourself enough time to recover? Will you have the time to do those bigger workouts? Is there something you know that your coach doesn't?

Forecasters have to get comfortable with the fact that their numbers are always wrong. Success is when our assumptions hold and we are in the range of what we forecasted.

Runners train better when they take a similar approach. Focus less on the specific numbers in your plan and more on whether it's staying directionally correct. Is it contributing to your feedback loop and to your current Leap Cycle?

There are infinite combinations of workouts that can lead you to your training objectives. Don't get hung up on the specific plan you created being the only one.

The Question

Are you judging your success based on doing quality work or executing your plan to perfection? 


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast

“When I hear a guy lost a battle to cancer, that really did bother me, that that’s a term. It implies that he failed and that somebody else that defeated cancer is heroic and courageous. I’m pretty sure, I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure if you die, the cancer dies at the same time. That’s not a loss. That’s a draw.”
- RIP Norm Macdonald



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