The triathlon season is over, and the year will soon be coming to a close. So, did you reach all of your goals for this past season? Were you 90% effective? 80%? 50%? Regardless of how well you did last year; you can still make improvements for the next season. Review your goals from last year and build on those successes to set new ones. “ How is this done?” you may say. Well read on and find out just how simple this process can be.
Were Your Goals Attainable?
First you need to find out if your goals were attainable or not. Did you merely set your goals too high/low or did you make mistakes in training that made you less successful? Reviewing your training log best does this. On a sheet of paper list your years training goals on the left and your training cycles on the right.
Now you can objectively see if your training and goals lined up. Did you put in the appropriate amount of training to reach your goals? Was your training specific enough to reach your goals? This is a simple way of learning what you need to do to achieve your goals for the next season.
Revising Your Goals
Next you need to revise your goals for the next season. Regardless if your goals are to improve your swim times, record a sub 2:30 Olympic distance race, or finish an iron distance event; you need to start with that goal and when you hope to accomplish it.
For example, Lisa wants to improve her Olympic distance PR. Her previous PR was 2:50 and her goal was 2:25. She finished her best race this past season in 2:35, a 15-minute improvement! Looking back over last year’s goal, Lisa decides a 2:25 was a bit of a lofty goal for her in one year. Her goal for next season is to improve to 2:25, one that she feels is attainable for her.
Create a Plan to Achieve Your Goals
So, how does Lisa go about achieving her goals?
First she has too break up her training schedule into cycles. A macro-cycle is the whole triathlon season. A mini-cycle usually consists of a base phase, speed phase, race phase and a maintenance phase. A micro-cycle is essentially your weekly training within each phase of training.
Lisa needs to pick out some races during the year, which she can key on, and some, which she can train through. Her “A” races are races she wishes to compete well in and/or achieve her PR. Lisa’s “B” races are races which she will train through to gain race experience and gauge her progress.
She Chooses 2 “A” races for the year and 4 “B” races. One of her “A” races will be the Stud Woman Triathlon on May 19th and the other is her regional qualifier for Nationals on September 4th.
Work Backwards From Your Goals
Now comes the real work. It is essential that Lisa set up her cycles so that her best performances fall on May 19th and September 4th.
So, we want to back up about 16 weeks prior to her first “A” race. She will put in 10 weeks of base mileage followed by 6 weeks of speed and race specific workouts. Her 6-week speed period should even include one or two of her “B” races if she so desires. The race phase is a shorter period that includes time to taper and recover from her “A” race effort, usually 2 weeks for this race distance.
After the Stud Woman Triathlon, Lisa will go into a maintenance phase. Now, this doesn’t mean she can slack off. She can include quality sessions during this phase, but the really intense sessions will be saved for the speed cycle. From here the cycle is essentially a repeat-speed/race/recovery.
How to Plan
The amount and type of training done during each micro cycle is up to Lisa and her coach. This part of the scheduling is part science and part art.
That is why it is a good idea to obtain the services of a coach or someone more experienced than you to help out. For example, you probably don’t want to put a hard interval session on the bike the day before a run session on the track. When you get into the day to day business of training, you will be happy to have a guide to help you get the most out of your time instead of logging “junk” mileage.
Having your yearly schedule easily accessible on the desktop of your computer or in a handy binder is also a plus. This way you will not only have it handy, but also be able to spot mistakes or plan for setbacks. It is definitely the best way to follow and analyze your progress during and after the season to make sure you reach your goals.
Be Sure to Build in Recovery!
One word about recovery. It is always a good way to schedule easy days/weeks into your plan. Most athletes I know like to sandwich an easy day in between their quality bike and run sessions for the week.
Personally, I also liked scheduling a recovery week every 4th week in my plan. I would back my intensity off by about 25% and my distances by about 30-40% during this week. I think this is essentially crucial when you are preparing for the longer distance races.
This is a very simplistic view of how to period-ize your training. Hopefully, it will encourage you to analyze your training program in order to squeeze the most out of every mile. Both newbie and veteran alike can benefit from this system. Good luck in your upcoming season. I hope you achieve all your triathlon goals.