As the season is drawing to a close, or already has, it is time to start planning for next season. October may seem early when thinking about races for August/September next year, but the time spent now will earn dividends come race day. Race day performance is the accumulation of many months of hard, dedicated effort. With this in mind here are a few areas that athletes of all levels should be thinking about.
1) How was your season? Did you achieve you goals, exceed them, or for some reason fail to get the result you wanted. Don’t make these judgements immediately after a race when emotions are running high, allow yourself a week to fully analyse what happened. Even if you won a race was it perfect, were there areas that could be improved upon. Be extremely critical, but realistic. Find areas where you can make changes, not for example, that there was a lot of traffic on the course – something outside of your control.
2) Once you have analysed your season look into how you can make the required changes. If you struggle to sight efficiently then you need to look at getting open water training done (not good in winter!). Speed in general for all disciplines is what most athletes want to improve, the goal is to figure how best to achieve this. Look into your base training. A solid base enables you to develop more speed during the spring months. Think about training as a pyramid. The larger the base the higher the peak (the peak being speed!). This base period needs to be developed properly though, ambling along for hours on end will achieve very little unless it is part of a specific program with clear goals.
3) Injury! Did you suffer any injuries? Were they as a result of training/racing? If so, these need to be addressed now. Sort any niggles out before starting training as a slight strain can lead to a full muscle rupture (it happened to me last year!). Address you core strength as well. A strong core will help prevent injury as your body will become more stable and better able to handle the pressure exerted from training. It will also allow you to transfer power more effectively when swimming/cycling/running, leading to faster times across all disciplines. As with all plans be sensible. A progressive, attainable plan is best, one that builds upon the strength you develop without causing excessive strain (some aches are good!).
4) Bike set-up. Now is the time to make the change if required. Allow yourself time to get used to a potentially different position. A specialist bike fit will help you achieve the best position for you, but it may leave you with some initial aches and pains as your body adapts to the new style.
5) Relax! You’ve worked hard all year, now enjoy training. Winter may be cold and wet, but group training can be a fantastic time. Remove some of the pressure you have placed upon yourself and allow yourself time to meet people who you may not have seen for the summer.
Winter is a fantastic time, even better when training is done correctly! Enjoy yourself and look ahead to all your aims for the next season.