As we draw closer to summer, the competition for many sports is now in sight. It’s an exciting time as race schedules are now becoming established and we can now start working towards more fixed goals. Some of us can be anxious as the winter can feel like a no man’s land in terms of feedback. We have been working hard but has our training paid off. For some athletes perhaps they have done less than they would have liked and now is the time to make amends.
Athletes love feedback and become motivated by progress. This makes the off season a little problematic as there is little feedback and it can be hard to identify progress. Yet individuals must have faith and persistence to continue on with the plan. As the season draws close there is a transition from blind commitment to realization. This too brings some issues. In order to prepare for the upcoming season you must not get too excited. You must make clear goals and plan in accordance with them. Many fail to do this.
In order to have a successful season there are several things which can be done in the planning stage which immediately increase chances of success. Here are our tips.
Planning your races
Many of us have an idea of the big races but much less of an idea of the ones in between. Most athletes should have 3 major races in the year evenly spaced apart. This allows for adjustments to be made to allow for differences in distance or race type among other things. In lead up, less important, or races of reduced distance or intensity (Competition or difficulty) can be used to both satisfy the desire to race and prepare for the main race. See here for more about prioritising races
Big races require significant planning considerations in training. These are more Mesocycles whereas smaller races only require smaller considerations called Microcycles. In reality this is the difference between a month long training block or a week’s taper prior to a race.
Knowing your big race types will dictate which smaller races you are likely to succeed with. Your offseason training will have had a higher emphasis training the systems required for your main race as opposed to smaller races. Think the difference between a Marathon runner and a 400m runner. A marathon runner may have some success running a 10k as a small preparation race. In comparison, a 400m runner is very unlikely to see benefits adding a half marathon into their season; they certainly won’t have trained in a way which is likely to yield much success in it.
This is where many individuals plan to underperform. There are many races in exciting destinations that we want to do. This does not mean we should. Some races complement each other and others do not. This may be a case of timing or type of event. A short fast race one week after a long endurance event does not allow for much chance to develop speed from endurance. Many athletes cannot understand why they lose speed over longer races and loose endurance after short faster races. The fact is we adapt to what we train for. Often we have got the concentration of training focus wrong for an event. This is often purely to satisfy a wish to compete at a certain event when it never really fit our plan. This distraction of focus can derail us from our major event and we were likely to have a poor performance at this event anyway.
In order to have success, give yourself a chance. Complementary races may be placed close together but non complementary events should be spaced far apart. We often don’t have a choice in when certain races are scheduled but we can decide which ones we commit to. A coach can be very good at providing practical and beneficial suggestions to extra races.
Less is more
Individuals tend to want to fill a schedule with as many races as their body can handle. This is especially true when ranking points or a series race is involved. It is extremely common for athletes to lose form over the course of a heavy race schedule. This is because the body responds to race stress as if it’s a training stimulus. The problem is that race stimulus may not always result in desirable adaptations. Taking adequate breaks between races and not overtaxing one’s systems can allow for more appropriate progression.
As races draw near there is a tendency for us to want to drive up training intensity to replicate race expectations. Races will rarely favour an increase in intensity as much as they will freshness and form. Many athletes are fatigued going into races quite simply because they have overworked in an effort to prepare for them. An individual needs to deliver a version of themselves that is prepared to perform. Working themselves into the ground in preparation is not the same.
Prepare the right way
When you decide your races you should have a clearer idea of your preparation races. In addition you should have an idea of what you are going to need in your race. You should asksome of the following questions
- What is the distance
- How long will the race take to complete (Short or Long duration)
- How fast will this race be
- Will it be a hilly or flat course
- Will it be hot conditions or any other environmental factors
- Will specific equipment be required
Any of these questions may add a training consideration which must be addressed. This will often just be a case of training in similar conditions. In other cases it may be a case of trialing clothing or equipment in order to get the best advantage from it.
As you can see from the above there are plenty of factors which can impact your success before you even race. With experience you will be able to identify more opportunities to ensure success and be able to avoid those that won’t. A good coach will often factor these things into your plan without you even noticing. If you feel you have been in condition but failed to achieve it may be a case that your combination of event plans had a detrimental effect. It is not always your training that fails. Individuals must be selective and choose their competitions with purpose in order to have the best chances or realizing their ability.
If you need help setting your schedule for the year then don’t hesitate to contact us.
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