Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Planning Your Perfect Storm

by Sue Aquila

For many long course triathletes, the big race of the season rolls into their life like a storm. They know the front is coming, they prepare for it, and then it meets life: family, work, and personal health. Like most storms forecasted by your local weather person, things seldom go to plan.

I once had a doctoral class with an education professor who turned out to be a unique combination of talented amateur artist and professional cynic on the educational system. His greatest gift to me was the day he announced that strategic plans are worthless the day they are finished. Everything changes. Be prepared to change with it.

I plan my seasons for myself and my athletes with this in mind. I have three key questions that sort out our direction:

  1. Are you on the Kona track or the “I want to have fun” track?
  2. Are you a big unit or a small unit?
  3. Are you prone to durability or fragility?

My advice for each track:

  • Kona? At Endurance Corner, you can find all of our advice on the Kona track here. Most triathletes are not on this track and find themselves wanting to have fun and improve their performance.

  • Fun? If you are on the fun track, don’t overthink it. Roll a standard training week, build a bit into your race and go have a great day. Take short unstructured breaks equal to your taper and then roll back into your standard week.

  • Big Unit? I believe in setting up your season to have one big peak/A race will serve you well. Include some fast races prior to your last 12 week build. Structure a race that is half the distance of your upcoming race roughly six weeks out from your goal race and you will end with a solid season.

  • Small Unit? If you are durable too, I advocate multiple peaks in the season. Ideally, I like to see a shorter/faster race approximately six weeks out from your A race. After completing your A race, plan a couple weeks of some unstructured and reduced training. If you choose to recover well mentally and physically you can peak again later in the summer.

The key to any peak is a life well structured. How are you planning for your storm? Do you have the support of your loved ones? Does your workplace allow for flexibility? Are you willing to sacrifice some of your social life? In other words, are you willing to choose the kale salad when a box of donuts is in front of you?

Planning your season needs to have a sense of urgency but structured in a mission that makes sense for your life. Storms are unpredictable. Know their general direction and impact but be prepared to adjust. Plan your perfect storm for a great 2014.


Sue started her triathlon journey with a 50lb weight loss and continues as a Kona qualifier. As a successful entrepreneur, she believes that, “You can run your business like your training and your training like your business!” As a coach (USAT Certified), she helps athletes to develop success in all areas of their lives: family, health and work. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can find her on Twitter @fewoman.
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