Many endurance athletes are accustomed to pre and post-season assessments. Pre-season conversations often focus on setting goals and creating plans. Then the post-season review is a "post-mortem" of the season, a time for evaluation and reflection.
Much of our time is spent navigating the ups and downs as the endurance season unfolds. An often under-appreciated tool for endurance athletes and coaches is the mid-season check-in.
Whether you work with a coach or not, going through the exercise of a mid-season assessment can be a powerful tool to help you identify the adjustments needed to get the most out of the second half of your season.
Benefits of mid-season assessments for athletes:
Athletes often identify areas of weakness in pre or post-season assessments. A mid-season assessment provides the opportunity to determine whether or not the plan to work on those weaknesses are paying off. With late-season races still to come, it allows time to make adjustments.
Mid-season assessments can be critical in helping endurance athletes avoid over-training or injury. It's easy for athletes to overlook or ignore niggles in the early season or to begin with too much gusto. A mid-season assessment can help athletes step back, do an honest assessment of how they're feeling, and make appropriate adjustments to the training plan going forward.
Benefits of mid-season assessments for coaches:
Mid-season assessments offer coaches the chance to provide tangible results to their athletes.
Endurance athletes and coaches must be honest with each other throughout the season. A mid-season assessment can be a valuable "checkpoint" to pause and critique overall performances to date to make adjustments in the second part of the season.
Mid-season assessments can motivate coaches to return to the drawing board and shift focus where necessary for their athletes.
Who can benefit from a mid-season assessment?
Athletes at any level can benefit significantly from an honest mid-season assessment. Whether with a coach or independently, reflecting on your accomplishments and making adjustments for the rest of the season is critical.
For elite athletes, a mid-season assessment can turn around a rocky start or ensure a solid finish to a great season.
Recreational athletes might require a less rigorous mid-season assessment. Still, coaches must ensure "weekend warrior" athletes maintain a healthy training-work-family balance so they can fully enjoy their sport and remain healthy.
Young athletes will benefit from learning how to perform honest pre-season, mid-season, and post-season assessments. These "soft skills" can equip young athletes for long-term success in sports and in life.
Topics to consider in a mid-season assessment
What goals did you set at the beginning of the season? Were they clear? Were they unrealistic, or could you have set them higher?
Did you achieve your goals in the early season races or training blocks? If not, why? Can any adjustments be made for the second half of the season?
What has been going well and has not been going well to date?
How are you feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally at this time? How is your work, training, and life balance? Is it sustainable?
What are you most proud of at this point in the season?
Are there any habits or weaknesses that have held you back this season? Can any of these be broken or shored up?
Did you miss any training? If so, could it have been avoided? What might be done to ensure you achieve the proper training for the remainder of the season?
What goals do you have for the second portion of the season? Do they need to be adjusted?
Tips for getting the most out of mid-season assessments:
Be transparent: Be honest with yourself and with your coach. It serves nobody to hide or sugar-coat things at any point in the season, especially not in a mid-season assessment. Being honest now can help avoid injury, over-training, or unnecessary disappointment.
Be specific: Whether adjusting goals or creating new ones, be as specific and measurable as possible to increase your chances of accomplishing them.
Use "W" questions: Ask questions starting with what, why, when, where, who, or how. Open-ended questions typically elicit detailed responses with valuable information.
Score yourself: Where appropriate, use a scoring scale like "1 to 5" to help you get quantitative and qualitative feedback.
These tips and best practices can apply equally to pre and post-season assessments.
How a coach can assist with a mid-season assessment:
A quality coach will help you do an honest mid-season assessment, ensuring you're not too hard or too easy on yourself.
Your coach will also help you interpret all the training and racing data you've gathered, honing in on the critical data points and turning numbers into a narrative that will help inform your goals and training strategies for the remainder of the season.
A coach is a voice of reason and encouragement, helping you set appropriately challenging goals and adapting the training plan to keep you on track toward achieving those goals.
Visit www.TeamMPI.com/our-team to get a free coaching consultation!
Gregg Edelstein is a certified USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, an IRONMAN University Certified Coach, and a USA Cycling Level 3 Coach based in the greater Boston area. Gregg offers his athletes insight on the principles of exercise, nutrition, sports psychology, and injury prevention, working to make them well-rounded and engaged athletes that share his passion for sport. Gregg can be reached at Greg@TeamMPI.com