Planning for the Next Season
2. Put that energy to good use
Plan on a few projects or goals that don’t revolve around racing. Switching gears and getting some other things done provides a nice balance to the single-minded focus of big sport goals. Choose some alternate activities for a while, ones that you can enjoy with your friends, partner, kids, etc.
3. Reflect on your race and your season and review your process
Reflection is a great process for appreciating your accomplishments and finding a sense of purpose and happiness about things you love. If journaling isn’t something you do easily, simple lists will do. Make sure you include things that you did well and things that need improvement when looking at your race. List five goals you accomplished during the season and five workouts you loved. Note five things you want to learn or improve upon.
4. Post-race evaluation
If your season ended in disappointment, wait several days before writing your review to give yourself time to absorb the experience before making decisions. All races are opportunities to learn and, while disappointing races are hard to take initially, they are often the ones with the biggest hidden gifts of making us more resilient, smarter and appreciative of the good moments.
The great thing about sport is that you have to live in the moment and think ahead. While most people think only of their next race, or in one-year season cycles, great training plans encompass development in two- to four-year spans. This provides a sense of perspective that allows you to fully appreciate all the moments that a season offers.
1. 2. 3. 4. Assess your racing satisfaction honestly and make sure your new goals align with what you want.
Did you love the distances you chose? All the distances in racing are legitimate and make sure you are choosing a distance that you love and feel excited about doing.
Assess your desire to compete. Assess your abilities and what you love. Embrace your strengths.
While you do want to work on being an all-around, proficient triathlete, do not underestimate the power of what you do well.
5. Be your own company.
Make a list of deliverables and work backwards. Shortterm goals might include: need a coach, need to be a better swimmer, want to be better at open water, want to be stronger on the bike, etc. Here are some skills you can adopt that will help you turn your race experiences into education and future success:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. While acknowledging disappointment is necessary, do not to dwell on the negative. 6. Make some observations on your satisfaction of the way your whole season went. 7. Review and recap your biggest events soon after they are completed so that details are still clear in your mind, but wait a few days to let the overwhelming emotional feelings subside.
When things go well we feel on top of the world and that we can do no wrong. Conversely, when things do not go as planned, we feel we must overhaul our whole lives. Give yourself time to process and accept what happened before you review.
Once you are ready for reflection, honestly acknowledge how your season went.
Write down both the things you did well and the things you would do better and include both physical and mental aspects to your program, noting training, pre-race emotions and race-day self-talk. How you felt in the days leading up to the race and how you performed your taper are some of things you can evaluate. Sometimes, when we compare what we had planned with what actually happened, we are surprised by the differences.
While looking at your list, note any changes you might make for a more enjoyable process.
This exercise can be one of the greatest ways to improve as an athlete. You can also gain perspective, and advice, from coaches and friends you trust to build this into a powerful learning tool for the future.
Make a game plan right away for improving your program and review it frequently in the coming season.
Turn your season review into next season’s goals. If you lost time in the water because you couldn’t see where you are going, you need to work on your sighting skills for the upcoming season. Specifically, you need sighting drills, open water swimming and extra coaching in this area.
Accept and move on. Also, don’t discredit your whole season because of one or two poor performances. Perhaps you weren’t able to hold pace on the run this year, but don’t overlook the way that you prepared for the race. Perhaps you exited the water in great position, or held your desired output on the bike. Triathlon is a complex event with many races within the race, both physical and mental. It can take several seasons to get it right.
Even if you feel disappointed about what you achieved overall, there were no doubt things you did right that you can strive to repeat in the future. Things to look for include the frequency of races, the duration of long training rides and runs, your nutrition plan and your race tapers. The length of the season is also important. Emotional and physical stamina are important factors in season planning.
From your reflection of your season and races you can start thinking and planning towards your upcoming season’s goals. 8. Keep things in perspective.
Many athletes are too hard on themselves in their efforts to reach their goals immediately. Look at how far you have come as an athlete and give yourself a pat on the back for what you have already achieved.
9. Be aware of factors that are entirely out of your control like weather, draft marshals and other competitors’ actions.
Developing mental fortitude in the face of obstacles and challenges is one your greatest racing tools.
10. Adopt a curiosity about racing and keep a lighthearted attitude about it all.
Remember that failures are the greatest opportunities of all for learning. Look at everything as a learning experience, not a reflection of your self-worth. This will, in turn, make the journey exciting and continually fresh as you increase your sport knowledge. Success is the ability to learn from your failures.
You have an opportunity to be great every time you train and every time you race. What can you do today to be a better athlete than last year? Reflection and analysis of key races is one way to turn experiences into tools for success. By following these steps you will start visualizing yourself racing and executing the goals you have set out for yourself in 2017.
Lucy Smith is a national champion runner and coach with Lifesport Coaching, Lifesportcoaching.com or email [email protected]sportcoaching.com.