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Is technology getting the most out of me

Last weekend saw me complete my second running event of 2024, the Marriott’s Way Trail Marathon put on by Positive Steps. It was 26 miles (41.84 kilometres) of mud filled disused railway route from Norwich out to the Norfolk town of Aylsham.

As is the case with these events, I plan my race, not only from the food and calorie intake but also the entertainment to help take my mind off the dark parts. This normally consists of some downloaded music that invokes a positive mindset, but also a few recent podcasts, as these really help shift the internal dialogue.

Overcast iOS app

It was not planned, but the podcasts on tap were all sports related and had a similar thread running through them; what makes a good coach, and how do they get the best out of the athlete?

Of course, this put me back into the thought process of coaching, but as the conversations progressed I realised that my thought mapping was not just sport related.

Coaching, whilst my take is predominantly associated with sports, is not just about handing out some interval workouts for the athlete to complete. A coach is that person who helps and supports the athlete to ensure they are fully prepared to meet and exceed their goals and expectations. This could be a life coach helping a client improve their quality of living, a therapist working with someone with levels of anxiety, or even a teacher progressing a student through the academic system.

It was around mile 18 of the race, I went really deep into this conversation and how technology and coaching can interact and play off each other. Clearly, Artificial Intelligence is big business as it is woven into more and more aspects of our lives.

Marriots Trail

One particular area is the sports physiology and training market. Companies are now leaning on AI to start analysing an athlete’s performance and predict what they should do next to keep the adaptions building. Which begs the question; will AI be a replacement for the coach?

This question, of will AI take my job is one I get posed very frequently at work, digital marketing is in flux as to how to tame this new technology beast. My feeling relating to this is the same as what makes the coach…

AI can effortlessly start prescribing a workout to an athlete. There is enough research into interval training and scientific papers out there for the algorithm to build the best guess on what is needed.

Just the same with digital marketing, AI has the breadth of the internet as a jump off point to create the next click bate article or digital marketing campaign.

However, we are humans, we respond to humans and interact with other humans. We can tell when things do not feel right, and we trust in genuine conversations and relationships.

So, for example, the coach would be there to support the athlete, they would understand that there is more going on in the athlete’s life. Be that mental support for when, for example, the lack of sleep prevented the performance the athlete expected. AI cannot fill that gap, it fails to show emotive support, we require that human interface.

Likewise, my views on the conversations at work are the same. We can create as much content and marketing material as we need, but at the same time we need a human to ensure that the messaging is relatable to the audience and the hallucinations are kept to a minimum.

There is more to relationships than datasets

Section titled There is more to relationships than datasets

As I entered Aylsham and lifted my pace for a sub four hour finish, the podcasts ended, and I was left with my thoughts.

Final finish

The bottom line. AI is here to stay, it will be integrated into as much as possible, that does always mean it is right or best to always use the latest and greatest tools.

Statistics and datasets can predict the best outcome, but humans are not always predictable, we need to remain at the helm to ensure the message and outcome remains in line with our goals.

As to my training, I’m happy to continue to let TrainerRoad’s AI prescribe my workouts, but each morning I listen to my body and I decide if I’m ready for the workout.