by Coach Roger Rilling
It’s all too easy to jump head first into an athletic season after a hard winter of training. Going to the first races or events of the season, without giving some real thought to the season ahead, can ruin all of your winter prep, not to mention your goals for the season. In this article we will go over the importance and process of planning out a great season!
PENCIL TO PAPER
Time to get out a trusty pencil and a few pieces of paper. I know this is the digital age, but writing your plan out by hand will make your goals a little bit more personal, plus you can carry your plan in your race bag. You can enter your races, plans and goals into TrainingPeaks once you've laid them all out (or you can do all the initial planning inside TrainingPeaks, if that's the way you like to plan). Remember, the idea is to create an achievable, but challenging plan for you and then hold yourself accountable to completing it.
LAYING OUT YOUR EVENTS
Picking your events and races sets up the tone for the entire plan. Because of this, spend some time deciding where and when you want to stand on the podium.
One thing to consider when you are choosing events is if you want to focus more on results or more on athletic development. These might sound similar, but when you are planning your season these two paths are very different. With the first path, you are choosing events simply based on results. A result driven event schedule will always need to be more concentrated on your natural and current strengths. The second path is for those who want to gain overall fitness or who want to expand into other areas of their sport. Understand that each path has its advantages and disadvantages when looked at from a very wide angle, but both will allow for a good amount of athletic growth.
Once you know what path you want to focus on you can start picking some events. Make sure to take your training area into consideration at this point, you will be doing yourself a disservice if your big race is a hill climb when you live in a flat area. After your events are decided you need to pair them with a manageable result. Do not go over the top with your goals or else you will literally turn your plan into a joke. Challenge yourself with goals that are obtainable with the correct training!
Now that you have your events laid out, you have to plan what your monthly focus for the season will be. Don’t think of this as more goals, but rather as markers along the course that simply help you stay in the race. Having an overall monthly focus will really help you keep your training enjoyable and productive. (TP TIP: Goal setting, event planning and monthly focus can all be set up and entered into your Annual Training Plan)
Check-ins are a short fitness test completed on a control course that is easily accessible to the athlete. Check-ins are a great way to see how your training is working out and to resolve any problems you might run into. Schedule your check-ins every 5-7 weeks; make sure to lay-out your check-ins now so you don’t forget about them once the season starts.
In order to make the results as useful as possible, layout 2 courses that exemplify the two main elements you will encounter during the season. For the cyclist I work with, this means laying out a rolling to flat time-trial course of 4-6 miles and a 2 mile climbing course. Try to schedule your check-ins so that you can complete them on one of your 2 courses. Place some attention in controlling as many variables as possible before the check-in. Some examples might be time of day, food consumed the night before and the morning of, level of fatigue, etc. (TP TIP: Try keeping track of metrics in your TrainingPeaks account to help you keep tabs on those variables)
Check-ins are all about gathering information! Make sure you record as many metrics as possible plus write out some good notes on how you felt during your effort. Consistently completing check-ins will help you and your coach get the most out of your efforts.
PARTNERS IN CRIME
The last element in setting up a great season plan is to create an active support group. An active support group will include training partners and a coach. Having an active support group in place will allow you to maintain a high level of motivation through the entire season. The other benefit of a good support group is that they will keep you accountable for your training choices, no more skipping workouts simply because you wanted an extra few minutes of sleep. Think about the people that will make up your support group and get them involved by telling them your goals, maybe even show them your hand written season plan. (TP TIP: Enable Social Sharing on your account to share your workouts with friends and other accountability partners)
Have a great season!
Roger Rilling is a former professional road and track cyclist with over 10 years of coaching experience. Stoller, founded by Roger in 2004, is a coaching and training club that focuses on giving athletes of all abilities the experience of being a pro. Training at Stoller is based off of personalized training plans, partnered with supported group training events. To find out more about Stoller, please visit www.mystoller.com or call 888.407.0754.
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