Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Pre Season is a Time to Reflect, Plan and Strengthen

At the end of the racing season, we’re tired. Many of us just want to sit on the sofa and eat. That may be ok for a week or two, but the Pre Season is good for more than putting on some weight. It is a time to reflect on last season, a time to decide what to do next season and a time to strengthen those things that we found to be our weakest links.

Reflection Means an Honest Analysis

For me, last season was a building season after nearly two years of not training or racing due to injury, illness and work (deadly combo!). Reflection is looking at the goals I set for my self at the beginning of last year and seeing if and where I fell short, if and where I exceeded and if and where I hit the bull’s-eye and asking “WHY?”.

Take a good look at your last season. Did you meet your goals? Were your goals realistic? Did you train as much as you wanted? Did you over train? Are you getting the same results over and over? Then ask “WHY?”

Being honest with ourselves isn’t always easy especially if you haven’t met your goals. I have a friend who has had the same results every year for 7 years now. He believes that training harder and more is the answer, even though that has not produced results, but it may actually be making him slower. He has a hard time accepting outside input (know anyone like that?!) From the outside looking in as a coach, I can clearly see the problem. He’s over-trained, under nourished and has inefficient form in all three sports. If he could take an honest look at his season, he would go very far in the next.

Sometimes, the culprit that dashes the attainment of goals is time. There are many ways to plan around that. Bottom line is: don’t be afraid to ask “WHY?” Analyze the why, on your own or with a coach. And do not be afraid of the answer. It could very well be the key to future success.

The Best Laid Plans …

Once you’ve done your reflection of last season, its time to plan the next. Be specific with your goals for next season. Make them achievable and special to you. Make sure they fit into your lifestyle and then pick your races.

I am coaching an athlete that’s a single mom. She has to plan her season around her kid’s schedule and chooses her peak races for the end of the summer/beginning of fall because of that. She also plans fun destination races that double as a family vacation. This works for her.

I have another client whose work load is seasonal and his hours behind the desk sometimes double during March/April. He knows he stuck in the Pre Season longer than most of us and can’t start his base training until after that and we plan his races accordingly. The early season races are out, but standing on the podium isn’t.

With the help of a coach or on your own, come up with a training plan … a training plan that builds upon your goals, suits your lifestyle and one that has a Pre Season Focus/Prep Phase, Base Phase, Build Phase and a Peak/Race Phase.

Breaking Weakness and Building Strength

Last, but not least, we focus on breaking the weakness and building strength. After looking back, we know what we need to work on. Whether it’s the swim, bike or run, overall fitness or planning a realistic season … the Pre Season is the best time to focus on that limiter. Again, with the help of a coach or on your own, you can develop a Pre Season Training Program that does the essentials to get you ready to train: focus on your limiter and getting your body and mind ready for next season’s training process.

As athletes, when we think about building strength, we think about physical strength. Least we not forget our minds and our spirit. Often times, the post-season sitting on the sofa eating is not only a break from the physical endeavors of endurance racing, it is also a mental break from the regime. The Pre Season is a great time to add something new that will rejuvenate the body, mind and soul. Some of us have been known to mountain bike, cyclo-cross, cross country ski or even take a series of ballet classes.

No matter what your reelection of last season revealed, the Pre Season is the best time to have fun building for next season. Enjoy!

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