The Impact of AI on Endurance Running Coaching

The Impact of AI on Endurance Running Coaching: ChatGPT’s Potential and Limitations

The latest technological advancement, the Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) autoregressive language model, is making waves across the internet. ChatGPT, an AI language model, has learned 300 years’ worth of information in just 6 months, allowing it to engage in conversation with users. This new technology is being hailed as a potential game-changer in many fields, with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, predicting that AI will significantly impact software categories and, I suggest, will extend to diverse areas of study, including endurance running.

Coaches who have tested ChatGPT for creating training plans have reported a range of reactions. While some were thrilled with the results, others were disappointed, particularly when asking for basic training plans for events like the Marathon. The AI-generated responses were basic and lacked the expertise expected from experienced coaches. However, coaches who approached the conversation with ChatGPT in a more personalized way, providing additional context about the goal race and the athlete’s running history, were more satisfied with the results. ChatGPT was able to create a tailored and detailed training plan, taking into account factors such as the specifics of the goal race and the athlete’s available training time. The plan even included suggestions for strength training and cross-training activities.

This technology has raised questions about the role of coaches in the future. However, as renowned coach, Renato Canova, highlights, the training plan should be tailored to the athlete and not the other way around. A coach’s expertise lies in adapting the training plan to the individual athlete and making changes based on the effects of each session. Coaching remains a dynamic process, and the coach’s role cannot be fully replicated by technology.

About Author:

Quintus van Rensburg is an Athletics South Africa Certified Coach, registered with Western Province Athletics. He does most of his coaching in Bellville, South Africa. He competes in road running in distances ranging from 10 km to 100 km, with a focus on endurance events.

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