Posted by: Joe Nuss on Feb 25, 2011
The Essentials of Planning a Successful Season
By Robin Farina
These days everyone you talk to has some athletic goal they would like to achieve. Whether it's a first sprint triathlon, beginner bike race or an Ironman or possibly the 2012 Olympics, planning your season is the first step to success.
Often times the planning phase can be the most difficult part. It takes honesty with yourself, your family and your career, which is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. In a society where we are always trying to cram as much as possible into a day, being honest about how important the goal is and how much time you can dedicate to it will help you clear the path for a successful season.
Here are some easy steps to jump start your season:
1) Find a coach or mentor that has experience in the particular event or race you want to attempt. Contact them and ask for a free consultation to see if it's a good fit and explore their interest level in coaching you. Make sure your potential coach has a network of people that will become instrumental to your training. They should become "YOUR PEOPLE" to depend on to get you through the event. These are people such as
an experienced wellness practitioner like a chiropractor, a nutritionist, a massage therapist and a strength trainer. A good coach will not try to treat all your needs but they will advise you on the best route to address them.
2) Do your homework on the event to make sure it is what you had in mind in terms of distance, travel time, cost and the volume of training that it will demand. Destination races always seems enticing but lots of planning and logistics goes into traveling for races. For example, it may be best to start out with a shorter more local race and then move on to a destination race.
3) Set goals within your season. Pick one or several events throughout the season that can become benchmarks and provide quantifiable results. As an endurance athlete, you will need to use some sort of periodization training to allow your body to come into "form" as the event approaches. Most training plans will use a base, build, taper and then race structure. When you have races or events as goals you can train backwards from the event to ensure you race or compete in top form! This is why you hire a coach. You may not necessarily be up to speed on how to successfully plan a peak for a race or event. A coach will do this for you but you will have to do the hard training work!
4) Make a step towards eating clean foods! Your food is your fuel and it will directly affect how you perform and your energy level to train. I like to think of food like gasoline. If you are putting low grade gasoline in your Porsche then expect your Porsche to run like a Pinto. Shedding the winter weight is hard, but with a clean diet and the proper foods, the excess weight can come off faster. Keeping blood sugars steady and eating consistently throughout the day is always a better choice than eating heavy meals once or twice a day. If you are sticking to a regular training plan your body will require more fuel. Don't deplete the body of important calories. You can not perform if you have not fueled your body. Your coach can also help you track your nutrition or direct you to a variety of websites that will help you.
5) Set forth with a positive and motivated attitude and most importantly have FUN! Not every training day will go 100% as planned but every training day needs to have a focus. Often times if we have a goal for the specific day's workout it's easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your coach will also provide you with either daily, weekly and monthly training plans so you can see yourself improving and moving towards the goal race/event.
6) Take the time to recap the event. Whether it's logging your experience in a written journal or using an online training software, make notes and give your own personal race recap. It's educational and fun to look back and see what you did right or could improve upon for the upcoming season. It is also a great idea to send the race promoter a note or email letting them know the items that could be improved upon for a better event the following year.
These are just a few items that can help get you on track to with your season. Use experienced racers, coaches and mentors to help you through your athletic endeavor. Typically, they will have the answers to lead you down a patch of competitive success.
# # #
Robin Farina is a Professional Cyclist out of Charlotte, NC where she is co-owner of Uptown Cycles LLC which is a boutique training/coaching center and bike shop.
She has bike raced for over 9 years and most recently has begun her athletic endeavors in triathlon and duathlon. When she is not traveling and racing around the country, you can find Robin coaching athletes of all levels, hosting training camps and working at her favorite bike shop, Uptown Cycles!