Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Season Planning

Athletes always have questions on training.  Swim technique (post coming soon), strength training, secret bike workouts... etc.  One topic that seems to be forgotten is how to set up a season to take advantage of all that training.  Most endurance athletes tend to look at racing as an all you can eat buffet.   You know the type, where you stuff your plate as full as possible and come away regretting your gluttony.   However, if you were to ask an athlete if they would trade one fantastic race for four moderately successful races, they would (hopefully) choose the one fantastic race.  Everyone brags about a PR, so where is the disconnect between the goal and a typical racing schedule?

The truth is, as I mentioned in an earlier post, athletes can't be at 100% all of the time.  Your season should have "A", "B", and "C" races and you should set your expectations accordingly.  Assuming you do it correctly, your secondary races act as catalysts to produce an amazing "A" race day.  The tricky part is keeping your racing in perspective and keeping the big picture in mind.  What are you willing to sacrifice to have the race of your life?  Six months of work for one race?  How about a year?  If you're on the Olympic cycle, 4 years?  How many of you would be willing to plan for that time frame?  It's not just genetics that self-selects the best athletes in the world...

In the past, I've had an athlete fire me because they were not happy with the results of their "B" race without waiting on their "A" results.  I've had multiple arguments (er, discussions) with parents who were furious that their swimmers weren't swimming well in dual meets only to have the same parents over the moon when taper time produced results that were off the charts.  I've even personally beat myself up with the results weren't exactly what I'd planned, but in the end you can chalk up any challenges along the way as 'experience'.

This time of year, athletes should be looking at their upcoming season and planning the best schedule to succeed in achieving their goals.  Will 3 Ironman races help you to make the Big Island?  Should you be concerned if your numbers are not peaking in January (in reality, it's the opposite...)?  Is that early season Marathon setting you up for success or injury?  Now is the time to sit down with your coach and make a plan.  There is nothing wrong with the goal of racing 20 times this season, but be honest with what that means in terms of your performance.

As a professional, there are some factors that come into play when planning my race schedule.  If my goal is to come away with a profitable season, I have to take into consideration prize money, travel costs, field sizes, sponsor bonuses, and more.  Do I put all of my eggs in one basket and peak for a big payday against a big field and big risk or do I race more often and hope to piece together a living?    The realities of competition make earning a living many times conflict with the pursuit of high performance.  I'm working my way up the ranks, but am not yet at the level where every race is a sure-fire payday.  Nothing like putting in an 8:30 Ironman effort and coming away empty handed, but it's possible with some of the deeper fields at the big races...

My 2015 schedule is in the works and I hope to announce it shortly.  I'm waiting on final details from the Challenge North America series and running the numbers on various race situations.  I'm also trying to merge my goal of breaking 8 hours with the goal of providing diapers for Sidney...  Sometimes the sane person in me wonders why I'm not waiting tables and making real money!

Quit riding your bike and get a job!

Happy Training.

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