Ah, your triathlon season is over, or almost. You get
to sit down, chill out, and not train hard for a while. Or at least,
you have that option.
But after a couple weeks of laying on the couch and
eating your children's Halloween candy, you start to get the itch.
The itch to do more. The itch to be more. More than a candy stealing,
couch laying, TV watching blob. The inner athlete in you is crying to
And you can't help it. You start looking for events.
Exotic events. Local events. Challenging challenges for you to
conquer. You encourage your friends to sign up. You goad your
frenemies to follow your path. Before you can say, "Honey, I
have a surprise for you," half of your 2017 salary is committed
to enrollment costs and travel expenses.
Next Year is upon you.
Half the fun is signing up and making yourself commit!
As you get ready to launch into another season of
endurance madness, take a little time to make a plan of attack.
Today, we will create a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of your racing plans.
What are your primary strengths in racing? Ideally,
your big/key races will be a play to your strengths. You sell
yourself short if you make your most important race a place/situation
where you historically underperform. For example - if you are not
good on flat courses but excel in the hills, don't waste thousands of
dollars signing up for a big, flat event. If you are able to train
well in the summer heat, you can find a late summer/early fall race
to deliver all the fitness.
What are you not good at? Winter and spring is likely
a good time for you to get better. If you have a weak core, start a
core program. If you sink like a rock, set up some swim technique
lessons. If you have motivation issues, find a reliable training
partner or two. While you might not be great in flat events right
now, you can work on it and change this - and then spend thousands of
dollars signing up for a big, flat event.
What is missing from your endurance athletic resume?
What gaps are there in your experience in endurance athletics? You
can view these in different fashions. While qualifying for World
Championships is often a goal, it is not easy. So, what opportunities
do you have or can you create to make this more achievable?
Experientially, where would you like to go? You can easily tie in
some endurance race with a pleasant vacation to your dream spot. What
sort of event have you not done but always thought about? Make 2017 a
year to accomplish one of these.
In endurance athletics, our greatest threat is
typically ourselves. If you have high motivation, you run the risk of
overtraining and injury. If you have low motivation, you easily slide
into skipping sessions or falling off the good nutrition bandwagon.
What can you do to keep yourself in line? Your spouse may
be very supportive or completely indifferent. Other obvious threats
are unsafe riding conditions, bad coaching, negative training
partners, improper gear, not recognizing the stress work/life take on
you...and failing to plan properly.
This analysis is a nice, top level, general way to
approach a season. The reality of picking a key race and working
backwards from that event is the easier part. How much time you need
depends on your experience, goals, and lifestyle. In other words,
everyone's specific approach is different.
Read more about SMART
season strength training here;
And more about season
Good luck and we'll see you at the races!
Marty Gaal, NSCA CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach. He
has been working with endurance athletes since 2002 and is the
co-founder of One Step Beyond. He is currently doing planks.