The why of the how

Last week I posted what I consider to be the last step in planning out your season.  I then realized that while I laid out *my* season plan, I didn’t go a lot into my thought process behind it.

An athletic season can be thought of as a project with defined time-lines. It has an outcome: perhaps winning a race, qualifying for Kona, setting a PR.    Those outcomes have certain requirements.  Most likely you discovered during your self review that you have a gap between your current abilities, and the required abilities to achieve your desired outcome.  You also have a strongly defined timeline to accomplish the work.

With the gap(s) identified, you need to work in a combination of forward from today’s date, and backwards from the target date, to close those gaps and prepare yourself for the race.  Sometimes that preparation will close those gaps, other times you may need to do something special to close those gaps.

Based on my desired outcomes for 2011, a standard pre-race preparation period isn’t going to close the gaps, as the gaps are just too large.  That means I need to enter my race-prep period with those gaps closed, or really close to closed because my race-prep training doesn’t address the things I need to improve upon.  This means that for my scenario, when laying out my season I need to remove the race-prep periods from my plan to close the gaps.

The removal of those periods then identifies the periods that I have available to me to close my gaps.  What is fortunate for me is that the timing of my goal races, and the requirements of each race are different enough that my race-prep period for the first goal race, will continue to close the gaps that I have for my second goal race.  Convenient huh?  I must have planned that in advance!!!

Simple, straight forward, and easy to do.  The hard part is then doing the work to close the gaps, and prepare for the race.  Though, adjusting your desired outcomes for the reality of how well you were able to close the gaps is probably the hardest part.

Hope that helps!

A short follow-up

As I reread my post from earlier today – I realized that while I provided the example of my season plan and gave a little insight into the process of taking my suggested questions, answers and goals and transforming it into a season plan – I basically provided my current plan as an example, and didn’t do a good job of laying out my thought process so that you can do it too.

Give me a few days and I’ll try to fix that perceived gap.

The Next Level

Well it’s now December.  You’ve sat down with your “coach” and performed a review of your season, your upcoming season, evaluated strengths and weaknesses (physical and mental).

So now what?  You’ve asked some hard questions, given some honest answers, and heard some honest answers – how do you take that information and take yourself to the next level?

Well now comes the easy step of the process, laying out the season plan.  The hard part is following through on the season plan!  So let’s walk through this process of developing a season plan, using myself as an example – for those of you who read my blog regularly (I’m sorry) – much of this is may be a repeat of previous episodes.  Remember as you read this and hopefully take these steps for yourself – keep in mind the content of your self-review and your goals as well as your current state.  Those goals, along with knowledge of your strengths and weakness will help you to develop a plan that will get you to where you want to go.

The first step of planning a season is identifying the dates that you want to hit a home run.  For me in 2011 those dates are: 5/20 (Triple T), 10/8 (Kona), 11/21 (Ironman Arizona).

To simplify the discussion we’ll ignore the November date, that is a unique case that we’ll deal with at a different time.

So we’ve got 5/20 (5/21, 5/22) and 10/8 as the key dates for 2011.  Next we identify the dates 12 weeks out from those races – where we “start” training for them.  Those turn out to be 2/28/2011 and 7/18/2011.

Some other things we ought to note:

  • We have 8 weeks between the Triple-T and the “start” date for Kona.
  • We have 12 weeks from now until the “start” date for the Triple-T

This allows you to visualize your season in blocks – which allows you to easily assign objectives to the blocks, depending on what your objectives you can even break each block into sub-blocks.

So my season consists of the follow

  • 17 week block which started 11/1/2010, that has 12 weeks remaining
  • 12 week block starting 2/28/2011 and ending with the Triple T
  • 8 week block starting 5/23/2011 and ending 7/17/2011
  • 12 week block starting 7/18/2011 and ending with Kona
  • 6 week block starting 10/10/2011 and ending with Ironman Arizona

So what are the objectives I’ve attached to each of these block?

17 week block – raise my FTP as high as I can while not allowing my run or swim to fall backwards.  Optimally I’d raise my VDOT during this period also.  Even though I’ve identified my cycling as a weakness, I can’t simply improve my bike and disregard the swim and run.   I’ve broken this block into 4 sub blocks – one is focused on short FTP efforts to get used to the sensation, another is focused on longer FTP efforts, a third is focused on VO2Max efforts, while a fourth is focused on a mix of FTP, VO2Max and stamina.  This block will end with a down week.

12 week block #1 – The focus will switch from building the bike and maintaining the swim and run, to focusing on the specific demands of the Triple T.  Another key piece of this block is the concept of training to train for Kona.

8 week block – Currently I’m planning to have fun during these 8 weeks.  I’m going to try to race a lot, train a fair amount and get away from the grind of training.  All while trying to make sure I’m prepared for the final 12 week block before Kona.

12 week block #2 – Basically a repeat of block #1, but focused a bit more on a true Ironman distance race.

6 week block – Recover and hang on.

From here it’s a short leap to taking the objectives for each period and developing a roughly structure of key workouts to accomplish those objectives.  This structure should get looked at on a weekly basis and fleshed out for each coming week.

I’ll leave you with two pieces of advice: once you’ve laid the season out – stay focused on the task at hand – the workout of the day.  It’s easy for us to allow our goals to change from goals that motivate to expectations that trick us into thinking that it’s simply going to happen.

It will only happen if you make it happen.

The second piece of advice is to keep the faith.  Once you’ve laid out the plan and are confident in it – as you move through the plan don’t be afraid to make adjustments here and there, but don’t jumpship.  There will be days when you get fed up and are ready to give up on your plan – don’t.  Remember the first piece of advice about goals and expectations, and hold on for just a bit longer – it can only stay dark for so long.