The study below, though done the last few years and published last Fall is on a subject matter that started me down the path that I’ve been on since the mid-1980’s. Back in the mid-1980’s when I first started coaching I was noticing that several of the top world ranked runners were getting injured, missing training, losing fitness, then racing and setting a personal best and/or world record.
This was usually followed by folks in the track media doing stories about the coach’s supposedly perfect training program. Stories where somebody would inevitably claim that the runner’s world record would never be broken.
In not being a fan of group think, it didn’t make sense to me that somebody had an optimal training program or performance level if the athlete got injured or missed training due to illness.
That started me down the road to getting interested in sport sciences.
Going there soon made me aware of how much information -wasn’t- being either acquired or applied by coaches or runners in my sport. To me that meant it was unlikely that anybody had optimized performance or designed the optimal training program. And if no one has done that, it must follow that world records weren’t at the limit of what’s possible.
From there, a rather lengthy quest began.
“Previous research demonstrates an inverse relationship between injury burden and success…..”
“…..33 International Track and Field Athletes….across five international competition seasons.”
“Athlete training status was recorded weekly over a 5-year period.”
“….relationships between training weeks completed, the number of injury/illness events and the success or failure of a performance goal at major championships was investigated.”
“Likelihood of achieving a performance goal increased by 7-times in those that completed >80% of planned training weeks. Training availability accounted for 86% of successful seasons.”
“The majority of new injuries occurred within the first month of the preparation season (30%) and most illnesses occurred within 2-months of the event (50%).”
“For every modified training week the chance of success significantly reduced.”
“Injuries and illnesses, and their influence on training availability, during preparation are major determinants of an athlete’s chance of performance goal success or failure at the international level.”
B.P. Raysmith, M.K. Drew
Performance success or failure is influenced by weeks lost to injury and illness in elite Australian track and field athletes: A 5-year prospective study
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport — Volume 19 #10 — October 2016 — page 778