Why you need to write a training plan

In the last blog I wrote about reviewing your previous season before looking forward. If you haven’t seen it click here to read it now. Once you have done that it is time to look forward and write your training plan. The first step is to set yourself some goals.

Many of us have heard that goals should be smart – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time based.  But what does that really mean? Unless it’s your first season you will probably have an idea of what  you want to achieve based on what you did last season. Many of us will then want to do better. So if you ran a 10k in 42 minutes last year this year you might want to beat 40 minutes. Or if you achieved top 10 in a race last year top 5 could be your goal this year. The important thing is make your goals SMART. Yes I do mean goals as it’s best to have several. Just imagine if your goal was a top 5 in a specific race and after a phenomenal season with lots of PBs you punctured and ended up 11th. Would you have failed? With that single goal quite simply yes. So don’t sell yourself short – set intermediate goals that will both keep you motivated to continue training and tell you you’re on the right track.

Set intermediate goals
When looking at a race that might be up to 12 months away you are likely to be overwhelmed in terms of exactly how to train all year to achieve top form on your big day. The point is you need to break the year down into bite size chunks. There are lots of differing views around this, if you’re interested google ‘periodisation’. I believe that however you break it down you need to base it around your intermediate goals. For example, where do you want to be by the end of the year, the end of February, early spring, etc? Think about races you might target or training routes you will do or simply tests you will take that could each form an intermediate goal. Traditional theory would suggest winter is about building your aerobic engine. Then comes transitioning from this to more specific race focused training before you focus your training entirely on getting you race ready. However you break it down you need to remember which intermediate goal you are working towards and be patient. There’s no point trying to beat your 5K PB when all you have been doing is low intensity running.

Write it down
Finally comes the all important aspect of committing your plan to paper (or the cloud using something like Training Peaks). However you do it, make yourself accountable. If you don’t write it down you won’t be clear on what you need to do. Better still is to give every session a specific goal. For example, this session I am going to work on cornering or on bike nutrition, or this session I am going to keep my heart rate in zone 2. Be realistic with your plan and start with your other commitments. For example, if you already have family or work commitments every Monday that only give you 30 minutes to train make this a recovery day or just a stretching day. Again there are lots of off the shelf plans you can get which you can manipulate for your own needs. In a future blog I will share some ideas for planning your week and season depending on what sort of race you are working towards.