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New Year, New Start

The holiday season is over and for many summer athletes this marks the end of the off season. For some this period has been used for complete rest and others have been furiously putting in the hours looking to get ahead. Regardless of the category you might fall into there is no need to stress. The body is a very adaptive organism which means it responds very rapidly to training stimulus. Regardless if you have weeks or months to your next competition you can make progress. The key to being a successful athlete, whether a weekend warrior or Olympic medalist, is efficiency. The trick is getting the best bang for buck in terms of time and effort spent. To do this you need a plan.

For many plans sound like mythical objects that make the world a perfect place. In reality they form a base from which you can structure and manage your time and effort into a functioning process. They are also very easy to put together with a bit of common sense and experience. Many athletes overcomplicate things in effort to find a secret edge. In reality simple plans are easier to follow and provide less opportunity for mistakes.

In order to have an effective plan you should start with goals. For advanced athletes these may be placings at a competition but for most they should be more process orientated than outcome. For a runner or triathlete, improving a 10km run PB by one minute in six months is a great goal. It is performance orientated, individual and relative. This can be trained for. You can only run at your best and hopefully it is the winning time. When an individual has winning as a goal it introduces variables which are uncontrollable. You simply cannot control the level of the competition, only yourself.

Having priority events is perfectly acceptable as long as your performance is the goal as opposed to placing. When looking at events you need to consider the date, distance, location and competition. All of these will steer what kind of performance is required to be optimal on the day. In most cases it’s good to formally assign levels of priority to events. 

“A” races are the top of the food chain; nothing is left to chance for these races and they dictate training over several months or potentially an entire season. 

“B” races are important and dictate training over weeks to months. These are races which may be qualifiers or test events for the “A” race. 

“C” races are the fillers. They are used for training and testing. They can be moved or abandoned as needed. Results at “C” should never be given much consideration. They are beneficial for testing, training and maybe just for fun but they should have no role in dictating a schedule.

Normally 2-3 “A” races are enough for one season. It is best to have time to settle, plan and prepare between these competitions. Regardless of positive or negative outcome it’s nice to leave good chunks of time between these. The “B” and “C” races should make up the bulk of your season. Again, a little time between competition is good as it allows for evaluation and progress. Too many successive competitions can run the risk of carrying problems or concerns through without any opportunity to address them. This can be very detrimental both physically and mentally.

The placement of races will dictate the volume and intensity of training during the build up.

Once the goals and events are set one can work back to the present. This gives the timescale for training and provides the skeleton for what’s to come. Depending on time available you can now break down the period into Preseason phases. For many this would be two major phases; Base and Build. This is where you work on general fitness and strength in preparation for a competition phase. The competition phase can be quite short in comparison. If a substantial base and build phase are completed speciality phases need not last more than a couple of weeks. These phases are less about fitness and more about being prepared for the course and location. For a cyclist this is where they consider if hills are long and gradual vs. short and steep. Is the venue cold or warm etc? This is the time to prepare specifically for the day itself.

As you can see from what has been discussed a plan can become substantial quite quickly once a process has been followed in structuring it. When this is done it gives a very clear picture of what is to be done from week to week to be effective and prepared. What many don’t realize is how powerful it can be in reflection. Often our previous season builds the foundation for the next and may dictate many of the goals. Being able to look back and assess what worked and what didn’t can be a major timesaving exercise moving forward. The only thing worse than making a mistake is not learning from it.

Being organized is largely about being proactive. For many seasoned athletes their experience makes the planning process quick and simple. For others it’s not always so simple. Joining a club or finding a good coach can make the process a bit easier and less stressful. At the end of the day having fun is what it’s all about and that’s hard to do under stress. It’s even more fun and extremely motivating when you can see hard work paying off with progress.

If you want to make this season your best then now is the time to make a plan. If you need help or just want advice with then do not hesitate to contact us.

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