So a month ago I wrote about some of the basic steps I would take with you if I were coaching you. Hopefully, you’ve take the time to divide your personality in two (or better yet, tapped a close friend to answer from an outside perspective) and examine your season and future from both the perspective of the athlete and the coach; or you’ve take the time to do a similar activity with your coach. In my opinion it’s critical to perform this self inventory before you get to far into planning out your next season.
After this discussion – some of which could be awkward to talk about – that’s fine. As your coach, you’d be paying me to tell you how I see it and support you in your goals – not tell you what you want to hear.
Now that we’ve had that discussion, the next discussion we should have before I start putting a lot of effort into the actual planning of your season is talking about some longer term goals – 2 to 4 years out – so that I can also layout a larger strategy of training. This is a pretty simple conversation: Given the status quo in your life – where do you want to be in terms of triathlon a few years in the future? Do you want to take a year off competition and training? Shift your focus to a different distance or sport? Why ask these questions? In my opinion when you engage in a coaching relationship – both the coach and athlete should enter it assuming it will be indefinite, this allows both the coach and athlete to have candid discussions about long term development. While the reality is that the relationship may not last forever, that’s OK. The ultimate goal of the coach should be to ensure the athlete reaches their ultimate potential – and sometimes that means the athlete needs to move onto someone will make sure that happens.
Once that’s done it’s time to move forward in developing the season plan that falls in with the longer term strategy that is the result of the discussion we just had.
The actual process of planning the season for an athlete is unique to that athlete. It’s not so much that each athlete is a beautiful and unique snowflake – it’s that every athlete has different goals and the timing of the season will be different for every athlete. The constructs of the season plan will be the same. When we get to the point that I write up my opinion on this process I’ll use myself as an example.
So how did my self inventory go?
Q: Did I achieve my goals for this current season? (run the full IM Marathon)
A: Yes. I accomplished my goal and than some. My secondary goals of having fun and maintaining my perspective of triathlon also were soundly achieved. I did experience some issues with perspective and expectations following the Pigman Incident, however. I’m very happy with how the year went in terms of life balance.
Q: What are my season goals for 2011?
A: Win the Triple T with Matt. Improve my bike so that I am capable of riding around 5 hours for an IM course like Madison, without sacrificing time from my swim or run.
Q: Why are those realistic goals?
A: I see the improvement from a 5:20 bike to a 5:00 bike less of a stretch for me than a comparable time gain in the run. It’s not so much realistic as it’s pragmatic. As for the Triple T, depending on who else shows up to play it may not be realistic – but I want to give it a shot.
Q: If these had been 2010 goals, what prevented you from achieving them?
A: For the Triple T – simply training time, I just didn’t have enough fitness or speed after my break to be fit enough to go a second faster than I (we) did. For a 5:00 IM bike, I’d say it’s three parts: 1> Confidence and comfort riding that hard, 2> Cycling fitness. 3> Inability to cope with a blow-up. Of those three reasons I’d say it was 30%, 20%, 50% in terms of contribution. A 4th item I’ll throw in just because is bike handling.
Q: What are your strengths?
A: In terms of attributes, I’d say it’s determination, stamina, and desire. In terms of actual triathlon skills, I’d say definitely swimming, pacing, and consistency in training.
Q: What are your weaknesses?
A: Fear of taking risks, distaste for really going hard, handling on the bike, and cycling and running speed.
With that done – the next step is for me to layout some longer term goals. Currently there is only one goal – I’ve talked about it several times – no need to rehash it here.
That’s all for today, the next post or two will be about my updated long term strategy, and my season plan for next year. Because this series of posts amounts to a walk through of my process (hopefully for others benefit), I’ll do my best to post them in a short time frame.