What “Individualized” Training Looks Like

Jake hitting a new top speed 6 weeks after knee injury

I’m sure you’re all aware by now that we take each athlete’s age, experience, sports played, goals, injury history, etc. into consideration when programming. While this is more complicated than using a “workout of the day” model, it’s well worth it. Our ultimate goal is to adequately challenge each athlete upon every visit no matter the situation. 

About 6 weeks ago Jake started experiencing substantial knee pain. He had just set a new top speed PR the week before and was looking really sharp, so naturally this was a disappointing set back. We immediately altered his program, being sure to avoid any movements that triggered his knee pain. What started as an in the moment set of substitutions grew into thoroughly structured routines to allow him to continue warming up, rehabbing, and strengthening around the knee.  

The overall avoidance of the knee was allowing him to feel better, but whenever revisiting previously troublesome movements the pain immediately returned. We were in a holding pattern, and that simply wasn’t good enough for us. So, I did some research in the area of knee tendonitis beyond my current approach. Interestingly I stumbled across this podcast about knee tendonitis from two incredible coaches, one a strength coach, the other a physical therapist. They were both in agreement, the best way to rid yourself of knee tendonitis pain was to load it… even if it was uncomfortable.  They strongly felt loading it would not cause any more damage, just perhaps feel a bit nasty. The caveat was how the athlete felt the next day. If they were OK, then the work was beneficial, if they were in pain, stop. 

We tried this with Jake and he was a trooper, happy to try it and embrace a little discomfort with his knee exercises. Upon his next visit he reported no pain the next day and was actually able to progress through a vast majority of his warmup for the first time. We continued down this path for the next 2 weeks, each visit his knee felt better and he was able to perform more movements pain free. Finally, this past week he felt ready to sprint.

He took off down the track at what was supposed to be 80% effort and he hit a new PR by 0.02 seconds! It felt great, he was in disbelief at the time, so we said go ahead and push it to 90%. On his next rep he improved again, now running 0.03 seconds faster (0.5 MPH) than his previous best! His third and final rep repeated that feat, solidifying he was running 18.4 MPH with consistency and no pain. Jake’s solution was not the one I originally had in mind, but the need to see him better forced us into giving him a truly individualized workout. All RSP athletes can expect the same level of care and attention in their programming.

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