Assessing your Season
Unfortunately, those evenings are getting darker and it is the time of year when the racing season is coming to an end for the majority of UK Triathletes. It is a natural time for reflection on all the racing that has passed in 2017.
The ideal starting point for your reflection should be this time last year or the point in time where you started your training into this season. Start with the overall goals and then develop this into a more specific analysis as you go. Be careful not to miss the overall purpose by getting into the fine detail too quickly though.
Whatever the level of your participation it all starts with assessing whether or not you achieved your overall goal for the year. Did you complete that long-distance race, did you dip under 2.5hrs for a standard distance race for the first time?
Headline Outcome Goal for the season
It is at this point of the year that you can really sit back and look at the outcome of your season, did you perform at the race you targeted and made a priority of. Or simply did you have fun?
This is a really uncomplicated yes or no question; did you achieve the outcome you were seeking?
Next, it is good to take a general look at the year without specifically looking at any training records or information - go with your gut instinct and get some thoughts written down.
Using the two groupings of:
"What Went Well" and "Would Have Been Even Better If", is a really effective way to sum things up and one that has a positive spin on where you can improve and make progress. It is really important here to build on success and play to your strengths so that you can acknowledge, repeat and improve on them. Writing down a list of 5 to 10 things that went well across the course of the season can help you to do this. Some examples could be, last season...
- I was really pleased with the improvement in my transitions with simple practice
- Although it wasn't a focus my consistency in swimming led to some surprising gains which were an unexpected bonus.
- I paced myself really well during the bike leg at races
- I became an independent athlete and stopped worrying about what everybody else was doing and focused.
Again 5 to 10 short bullet points on things you could have done better. Last season would have been even better if...
- I hadn't kept missing those Saturday morning swims
- I had got my bike serviced before my key race
- I had got a massage once a month to stay on top of niggles and tightness.
- I had used my foam roller more
- I had given my coach more feedback on individual sessions
It is also really important to note down what you enjoyed, what you didn't enjoy, what you would like to do again and what you wouldn't like to repeat. This honest assessment can be incredibly beneficial in looking after your motivation and application to your training. For example, if you never swim because you hate the local pool it is unlikely you will enjoy or improve your swimming.
The next step is to move down to the next layer. It is important to break down how you went about achieving your goal over the course of the year. This can involve identifying if you hit your sub-processes or sub-goals. These can then be broken down into the blocks of each phase, each mesocycle of training.
For example, did you complete all of a strength phase early in the annual training plan to improve injury resilience or an issue and also allow you the platform to then create power.
How did this phase go, how did each phase go, how did they progress? Take a look at your training diary (if you have one) and ask those questions. If you don't have a record of your training perhaps this could be a goal or learning point for next season. Each phase could have a specific focus like the ones below
- Complete more Open Water training sessions in order to improve my sighting
- Do three Time Trial events in order to work on my ability to 'push' on the bike
- Complete a middle distance event as 'practice'. Including practice of my nutrition plan from training
- Increase the number of track running sessions I do consistently as these worked well last year
Try to break down a timeline of the season and pick out the 'events' including 'life events' along the way. Did it all go smoothly, how did the plan change and adapt, what was the impact of each event? These events can provide a real perspective on what actually happened versus what the plan said and what you recollect.
Then with this perspective ask the question of how did this affect any performance targets? By the time you get to this stage it should be clear as to what actually happened and where it went right, as expected or missed the target. Examples would be:
- Achieved 90% completion rate on training sessions set in each month
- Improved FTP by 10W, Targeted 15W
- Improved CSS by 6sec per 100m which was 1 second faster than planned
- Did you peak at the right time?
- Was my Training Specific to my race distance (was I focusing on 5k run peaks when I should have looked at 10k runs)?
The critical aspect of this task is writing it all down and recording it somewhere. Plan, Do, Review is the basic building block of the completion of any task towards achieving any goal. Recording and writing things down is crucial to progress.
If you haven't planned before well then this honest assessment can be the starting point of a very successful 2018 season! Only by knowing what you have done can you truly know what you can do.
If you would like to see an example of a season analysis please have a look at this Blog from our Team Athlete Elaine and Coach Philip reviewing Elaine's 2016 season. More to come from Elaine in the weeks to come as unlike Team Athlete Ollie below she has been busy on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Winter is coming...