6 Tips for Planning Your Next Race Season
Fall is here and for most people in the northern hemisphere that means triathlon season is over. Some of you may opt carry that fitness into late season half or full marathon, others have chosen to take some time off from structured training to chill out and enjoy moving for the fun of it.
This is also the time of year that many people start planning their 2020 race season. Early bird pricing for many races means most people commit to races well in advance without giving too much thought to how to structure their training in terms of building and recovery between races. This can result in lacklustre performances in key races, which results in an unhappy athlete.
How do you avoid this?
1. Race Selection. When you sit down to plan out your season, pick your goal race. I have some tips on how to do that here
2. Where to start? Figure out where your fitness level is currently at. Be honest with yourself. Did you spend the last 3 months after your last goal race sitting on the couch and binge watching Netflix? Or did you give yourself a bit of recovery time and then resume some easy training? If you are starting from square one, then you're going to need a longer build than if you kept up some activity post race.
3. Work Backwards. Once you've chosen your A race and you've figured out how long you think you'll need to build towards it, work backwards to figure out your start date.
4. Other races. Most of us like to do more than one race per season. The key here is not to "over race". You have to allow for sufficient recovery between events. The shorter the distance, the less recovery necessary. Here are some examples of recovery times for various distance triathlons:
* Sprint: 1 week
* Olympic: 2 weeks
* 70.3: up to 5 weeks
* Ironman: roughly 8 weeks
If you're a runner:
* 5 km: up to 5 days
* 10 km: up to 5 days
* Half marathon: up to a week
* Marathon: up to three weeks
This can vary depending on age, gender and time in the sport. Men tend to recover faster than women and the younger you are the faster you recover. If you are newer in the sport, it will take you longer to recover than someone who has been in the sport for longer.
5. Test early and test often. Do some testing to figure out where you are at fitness wise. If you're a runner, sign up for a 5 km race, plug your race time into an online calculator to figure out your current training paces and go from there. If you're a triathlete, you'll need to test swimming and cycling as well. For swimming, you can do a 1000 meter time trial or a CSS test. On the bike you can do either a ramp test or an FTP test.
6. Make your plan and stick to it. If you are an athlete that doesn't need the one on one guidance a coach can provide, there are plenty of great resources for online training programs. Online training platforms, Training Peaks and Final Surge have stores that you can purchase plans from a variety of coaches. There are also a ton of fantastic books out there. The Triathlete's Training Bible by Joel Friel and Matt Fitzgerald's 80/20 Triathlon are a couple that I've read.
You invest a lot of time and money into racing so taking the time to map out your season before it starts will give you the best of chance of success. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
~ Coach PK