Look back before you look forward

It is the off season for many triathletes, duathletes and time triallists. A time to put the fun back into sport and remember why you do what you do for the rest of the year. Thoughts are, inevitably, drifting towards what to do next season. If you are a long distance triathlete then you have probably already entered your ‘A’ race as they sell out so quickly. But before you set out your plans for next year, give yourself the benefit of a full review of this season.

Measuring Success
Did you achieve your season goal(s)? These may have been time based, position based or they may have been related to qualifying for a specific event. Whatever they wereBasic RGB be honest with yourself. If you set SMART goals in the first place you can’t really be dishonest. This is quite a sobering experience but just because you didn’t hit your goals doesn’t mean the season was a failure. Were your expectations too high or simply unrealistic? Did you have a mid season injury or accident that hampered your training? Did an unexpected work or family event have a big impact on your ability to focus? Here’s why I always encourage athletes to have several goals each season. Having just one and missing it can feel like failure. Having several and missing one but hitting others feels very different. Besides we do this for fun right so don’t be too hard on yourself!

Be specific
Then look at each part of your discipline and break it down. For example, if you’re a triathlete how was your swim start, how straight did you swim, how quickly did you get your wetsuit off, how did group swimming affect you? Looking at each in turn and ranking them can help you to work out where your focus areas are for the coming months. If you are a duathlete or time triallist how was your pace management – did you hold or fade, how did you climb and descend, how was your bike handling in wet and cornering – all areas where you can pick up vital seconds. For everyone, how well were you organised? Did you know the course in advance? Did you get enough sleep and maintain good nutrition? Did you warm up properly?

Work on your weaknesses
Once you have done an honest review, you have effectively identified weaknesses that you can work on over the winter. For example, if you have identified cornering as a weakness, think about what you can do to improve. Can you go to a velo park and practice or find a quiet safe road where you can test your skills? If your pacing was a problem and you always start too hard then focus some sessions on a negative split approach where the second half is faster than the first or include harder intervals towards the end rather than at the start. This is also a great way for you to set small regular goals, that keep you motivated and show progress. For example, by the end of December I want to be able to ride 30 miles with the second half over 18 mph.

If you have a season or two under your belt then you already have a wealth of knowledge about you that is ideal for you to work on over the coming months. Don’t waste it! Good luck.