For most of us, the blessed off-season is finally here and that means many opportunities to rest and assess the progress of the last season as we begin preparing for the next. I have taken the time to get a physical, continue rehabbing a bad ankle, and go to yoga; I even gave Pilates a try. But as you can see, I have not listed the most important tasks for the off-season: looking back as to whether last year was successful, determining how to build upon any success, and correcting any failures or shortcomings. There are several keys to accomplishing this assessment.Take a very honest look at your goals from the start of last season and compare that to your training logs, your race reports, and the demands of your life in the last year. I must stress this last point because in triathlon, as in life, we have to balance many competing interests. For example, this time last season I planned to improve my swimming and also work to get my average speed on the bike above 20 mph in races. To be more specific on the swim goal, I wanted to become more confident and increase the distances I could comfortably swim.
Training Logs The key to a balanced assessment is to review your training logs. If you take a look at my training log it would appear I put the work in to accomplish both of these goals. My swim distance and bike mileage for 2008 surpassed my distances for 2007. Every Saturday morning over the off-season and the racing season I swam at 7:30 a.m. with a swim instructor. We worked on improving my endurance and increasing my speed.
On the other side of the coin I rarely rode the bike outside, even on good days. I over-relied on the spinning bike in the gym and on my mount in the basement. To make matters worse, I can honestly say I did not put in the necessary time or intensity for my weekly long rides.
Another way to make this point is to say that in addition to the logs, think about what the planned workouts were really about and what you tended to miss or not focus on.
Did you regularly miss an interval run?
Did you tend to cut bike rides short?
Did you take the time to stretch?
Did you practice transitions before races?
Where were the places in your training that you lacked balance?
Race Reports Also, look at your race reports. My reports show that I did not race enough or as much as I had planned. I did very few running races, I did not do my early season marathon as I had planned, and on the races I did register for and do, I did not take the time after any of these races to reassess my training and adjust my approach.
Looking back and forwardWe can learn from the past. In order to not make the same mistakes going forward, write down how you intend to improve for next year. Put these goals into the Goals section of your Beginner Triathlete Profile. Make sure they are realistic and measurable. When they are accomplished or surpassed, take the time to acknowledge them and celebrate the accomplishment. Take the time to look at the logs of other members on beginnertriathlete.com.
Are their pre-race routines or warm ups something that you can learn from?
Are there swim workouts in other members’ logs that you can borrow to improve your performance?
From my look back, you might think I would say my 2007 season was less than successful. Well, you would be wrong. Admittedly, I did not race enough or get much better on the bike, but I finally became a swimmer and have felt some pride about finally being able to say that. I also had a lot to balance. I got married, had renovations done on my house, and changed jobs mid-year. I also maintained my love of doing triathlons and cannot wait for the beginning of next season. Who knows—I may even pass some people on the bike leg of a race next year!!