Think Differently About Planning Your Next Season
As a new season approaches, it's the time of year when I work with athletes on what the road ahead may look like. We ask a lot of important questions like, What are our top priority races? What are our new goals? Have there been any changes to our weekly time-to-train total? Are we looking at purchasing new gear?
There are many things to discuss to set goals and chart a new course for the upcoming season.
But what about more experienced and advanced athletes? Sure we ask the same questions, but wouldn't we just repeat what worked in the past if we had a successful season?
No. …And Yes. Hahaha. The answer is a bit more nuanced.
As an athlete grows in experience and ability and becomes more competitive, there is a natural reflex to "don't fix what isn't broken." But as self-awareness and performance improvements increase and we note the hows and whys, we cannot ignore a few other issues. They all revolve around TIME.
As a competitive athlete improves, some seasonal changes occur regardless of the training plan and mental focus. These include, but are not limited to:
- Dietary needs and tastes
- Warmup times
- Recovery times and frequencies
- Time spent in training phases
- Focus on zones
These potential changes occur with each new year, requiring the athlete and coach to pay attention to and understand these changes to plan accordingly.
For endurance athletes who've been at this for a while, it comes as no surprise that nutritional tastes change over time. What tasted great last year might not taste so good next year. And with improved fitness, do you need the same amount with the same frequency?
And how about your warmup and recovery times? Well, here's where both experience and age may play a factor. In general, the more fit you get, the longer the warmup you may need. And the more fit you get, the harder you can push, which could require more recovery time. Being a year older can also play a factor in how much (and what type of) warmup and recovery you need.
When you were a younger and newer athlete, lots of time may have been spent in the Build or Prep phase, focusing on building your aerobic engine. As you gain more years of experience, you may not need to spend nearly as much time in those training phases. Often going hand-in-hand with this is how we progress through our zones in a given training period. Focusing on lower and higher training zones worked in the past.
As you gain experience and fitness, you're able to focus on new areas (like between zones like the Sweet Spot). You're also able to create new combinations of progressions each week that may be just what you need to make the jump in fitness.
The central concept to understand is that the body never stays the same, so your training should reflect that from season to season. Be open-minded, be bold, and work with your Coach to develop new ideas that will ultimately help you reach your goals.
Mark Sortino is a Boise, ID based Coach wi is a USA Triathlon Level III and Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, FIST Certified Bike Fitter, USAT Certified Race Director and Paralympic Coach for Team USA. From brand new Triathletes and MTB-ers to World Championship qualifiers, Mark enjoys working for and with all types of athletes as they pursue their dreams. Mark is also a US Veteran having served 20 years in the US Navy as a Naval Flight Officer and is a graduate of the US Naval Academy. He can be reached at mark@teamMPI.com.