“I need someone to tell me what to do”

“I need someone to tell me what to do”


by Grant Paling. In his second of three blog posts, Grant shares his personal experiences with AI in endurance training, emphasizing the blend of AI assistance and human accountability in achieving his personal triathlon goals.

Let me start with a very blunt statement - it’s one I make almost every day in my work as a cybersecurity professional - AI is not yet at the level where it can replace humans.

With the current hype around AI, I would encourage you to read Rodney Brooks’ 7 deadly sins of AI. The article was written years ago before the advent of powerful large language models but I think it is still hugely relevant.

One phrase has always stuck in my head - “we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” I think of that phrase a lot at the moment, especially when it comes to generative AI.

But AI as a concept is not new, even if generative AI is the latest evolution and has perhaps garnered more attention than any AI that came before it.

In cybersecurity for example we’ve been using AI for years to help us identify malicious websites, suspicious activity, potentially stolen data and all manner of other (previously manual) tasks. And yet each of those tasks are just that - tasks rather than full blown replacement of roles (and the humans who conduct those roles as part of their job).

In a similar way, I don’t think you can completely replace the sports coach - I know quite a few swim, run and triathlon coaches for example and they are all amazing at what they do.

But I wasn’t looking for that when I signed up for AI Endurance. I am a member of Tunbridge Wells Triathlon Club (🧡🖤) and so I get access to an excellent set of coached sessions including track running (type 2 fun, if you know you know) and swimming sessions (the me of 10 years ago would never have thought 6am was “an ideal time”, I’ll explain what I mean by that in my next blog!).

And yet what about the in-between? I have for the last few years used these as the key sessions in my training week but I cannot always make it and in-between I found myself using generic training plans with no validation of whether that was beneficial or not.

AI Endurance has allowed me to change that experience significantly without breaking the bank. My training plan is all laid out for me, organized around my races (including knowing whether they are A, B or C races) and I can drag and drop sessions around easily if my week doesn’t quite fit how the app has laid out the sessions.

Tranining Schedule

A snippet from my current training plan. The drag and drop interface, especially as it’s optimized for mobile phones, is great.


Accountability is of course huge. You need to know yourself and how accountable you are going to be (as with any form of physical training) because of course the AI coach isn’t going to send you a WhatsApp message checking in on you - though AI Endurance does ask you nicely how you are feeling each day and give you feedback on what it thinks you should do and the benefits you’ll get from doing the planned session. But it’s not going to chase you, not yet at least, and that’s fine as long as you’re accountable to yourself.

That’s an area though where I think you can train your brain. Here is an example - with some of those earlier morning training sessions, I set my alarm and when it wakes me the first thing I see is this question:

Alarm screenshot

My alarm has no sympathy for me!

The meaning of that phrase has changed for me in the past few months from meaning “do you want to qualify for Team GB?” to now, having achieved qualification to be “do you want to race as well as you possibly can now you’re representing Team GB?”

Whatever motivates you, if you can harness that motivation, be accountable to yourself and combine that with the AI-driven plan and advice, then I truly believe you are setting yourself up to make good progress.

We all need someone to tell us what to do. Maybe that’s us, maybe it’s AI, maybe it’s a human coach, maybe it’s our friends or maybe it’s our club mates. For me it’s all of those things.

Find what works for you and you can achieve your goals. And most importantly, you can still have a lot of fun doing it too.

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