Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Smart Season Planning

by Gordo Byrn

Scott Molina and I have a joke that we say to each other, usually before we do something silly... "we know more now." It goes like this...

"I live in Central Florida and have signed up for a mountainous Ironman next August."
"How you going to train for that?"
"We know more now!"

"I live in Upstate New Your and have signed up for my first Ironman next February."
"How you going to train for that?"
"We know more now!"

By the way, if you happen to fit the above, then I'm not teasing you. Scott and I are making fun of the fact that we all dream up insane ideas that seem good at the time (normally six to ten months out from the event date).

Triathlon is tough enough, even when you do it right.

With Ironman Hawaii gone for another year, many athletes will use the coming weeks to take stock of their seasons.

To take stock athletically, ask yourself how this past year went:

  • How often was I sick/injured? What time of year did this happen?
  • When did my motivation peak?
  • When did my athletic performance peak?
  • Did I manage to get my best athletic performance into my races?

When you think you have the answers, go back to your training log and make sure that you are remembering what really happened. Don't trust your memory -- it will be skewed by the recent past.

Nearly all of us will have patterns with the above questions that repeat year after year. In fact, with athletics, past performance is highly predictive of future results. It's going to take some thinking -- and effort -- to change direction.

Consider your environment:

  • When is the weather best for training in my area?
  • What terrain do I have available in my area?
  • What types of racing suit my personal profile?
  • Do I deeply enjoy the training required to perform at my chosen races?

The last one is an important question that many athletes fail to consider. If you don't have an endurance mind-set then you are likely to get a lot more enjoyment from choosing events that suit the way you like to train. As well, it is important to select events that happen when it is fun to train.

Factor the realities of your life into your race selection. Specifically, lay out your season so it reflects your geography, work and family. Outstanding athletes come from every region of the world.

Family considerations are essential. As a working athlete, you are going to be pretty pooped across the weekends (even taking Sunday light) when you are in your Specific Preparation phase. Choosing an early summer goal event can free you mentally and physically to be there for your kids during the summer holidays.

Being whipped, and unavailable, every month of the year will destroy most relationships. Schedule weekly, monthly and seasonal time with the people that are required for your success.

You will hear a lot about using the winter to crank up your top end fitness with frequent high intensity training sessions. While this will improve that aspect of your athletic portfolio, is it really what limits your performance? More often the intensity is appealing to our animal instincts from reduced daylight and living inside.

In terms of triathlon performance, you might be best served from a moderate program that enables you to:

  • Build loyalty in your support team
  • Create a stable financial footing in your life
  • Improve the quality of your nutrition and make progress with your body composition
  • Create the body and depth of fitness that can support a BIG increase in training load when it most directly impacts race performance (the last seven weeks before your A-priority event)

Each of our lives, and locations, will have a natural cycle of increasing and decreasing energy. By tying your season into this pattern, you will make it much easier to perform.

I have found that it is not possible to do everything at once. However, with a well planned year, it is possible to be successful in different areas across an entire year.

I can't have it all "right now" but I can sustain my marriage, my family, my work and myself with smart season planning.

Give yourself every chance to succeed.


Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog here.

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