Off Season Training: Part 2

author : eric_kenney
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Looking at your past training to figure out the future season.

Time to lay out the plans...

Your thinking, “It's the holidays! What could I possibly do for training? Turkey carving is some of the best deltoid training there is! This will make you more stable on the bike and resist fatigue longer! Don’t miss the opportunity.  Actually I am kidding. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holidays and the beginning of the long difficult road to start training again. I myself have fallen victim to the following scenario before. First its time to rest, then turkey day comes along, then Christmas, Hanukkah, etc., which slams full speed into New Years. Throw some travel for work in there, a vacation and maybe a wedding and the next thing you know its February, your turning 29. Again.  And you are barely going to get in six weeks of base training before spring.  

What to do?

Its time to plan.  The answer here is that this is not the time to stress about training but to plan ahead.  But before we can plan ahead one must look back at the past. Looking at your past year or more of racing and training can be the best thing you do in planning for the next season.

Here are some steps to get you on the road to success:

  1. Write down your general goals. Things that you want to focus on in general such as become a stronger runner, spend more time training on the bike, etc. 
  2. Then write down specific training objectives that can be precisely measured.  Increase threshold wattage to 250.  Run sub 30:30 minute 10k, etc.
  3. Then write down your goals, "win the state championships" or "place top 5 in my age group."  For races write down their dates and rank them in priority. 
  4. Most importantly, identify your weak areas.

Finding these can be harder than it seems. Here are a few methods for analyzing your season and finding your weakness to get you started right.

Step One: Analyze Your Season

Did you meet your racing goals and training objectives? Did you peak when you wanted to? Did you go as fast as you predicted?  These should be pretty simple 'yes' or 'no' questions.  Look then at your training objectives as stated above.  They should be measurable goals that are stair steps to you major goals. If you did not meet your major goals of the year, then the answer, or at least part of the answer to why may be right there.  Keep looking into why you did or did not meet your goals.  Look at everything - your job, personal life, relationship, etc. Stress outside of the athletic world is the number one cause of people under performing. If you’re a lawyer working 60+ hours a week and training 20 hours a week as well as being a mother or father, you may be setting about things in the wrong manner. There are only so many hours in the day!

Note what worked for you and what did not. The things that worked you will want to keep in your bag of tricks as these things will likely work again. The things that didn’t work, get rid of them! We’ll come up with something better!

Step Two: Finding Your Weakness

There are two ways to look at this. A good starting point is finding your weakness by-the-numbers. On the bike, the easiest way to do this is to test your power profile. Test your maximum power output for five seconds, one minute, five minutes and your threshold power.

A power profile chart can show you where you are lacking. This is particularly good data for the rodie. Is this written in stone?  Is this the end of the road?  No, but it is a good starting point. A similar method would be to get tested in a lab.  Even if you don’t “need” the areas you are weak in they may still be holding you back.  An example is an iron distance triathlete having a weak five second and one minute power. They don’t need that ability but if it is weak enough it is something that will hold your other abilities back. If it is an A race specific to your weakness (going to the Tour of the Gila and you’re not climbing well) then you have work to do!

Part two of this is comparing your weakness to your competition.

“But Eric I don’t race other people, I race myself.” 

That’s great and I applaud that self motivation but if you want to improve the best place to look is to the people that are better than you.  For example, in your triathlon results if you’re coming in 50th on the swim, 50th on the bike and 450th on the run time after time, then working on your running would be a good place to start. If you’re getting dropped on short hills in bike races, then short hills or one to five minute power outputs might be your weak point.  Before you make the decision as to what your weaknesses are, make sure you have more than one or two examples that show your weakness.  You ranked lowest in the run, your % loss is highest in the run, your brick runs always feel “off” compared to fresh runs.

Look at this deeply. It is very important. Are you not running well because you’re a bad runner OR because your swim and bike are not up to par and you’re paying for it on the run at the end of the race?  Are you getting dropped on the hills because you’re a bad climber or because the hills are at the end of the race and you have trouble there because your threshold power and endurance is not as good as your competition? Take some time with this, consult a coach and/or a trusted training partner or both.

All of this may look straightforward on paper but it’s harder to implement than it looks. Getting someone else to give you a good objective look at yourself could be the best thing you do.

Lets Put It To Work!

Now that you know where you want to go and have an idea on how to get there.  You are now armed with essential tools for planning and training for your season.          

  1. You have you goal races down in the calendar. 
  2. You should know what key skill and abilities you will need to meet your goals at these events.
  3. You should know what weakness you have, how severe they are and if they are specific to your main season goals.

Our next training article will address common week areas and discuss workouts to address them.

Eric is a full time triathlon and cycling coach. He is the owner of EK Endurance Coaching and works with athletes of all levels. To see EK Endurance Coaching’s highlighted results and learn more about what they can do for you go to


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date: January 18, 2013