February 1, 2012

5 Easy Steps to Quickly Build Your Annual Plan

Races have a sneaky way of creeping up on you so if you’ve been stalling it’s time to man-up and lay out your year.  And if you’re like me and have key races in the spring then you’re already behind the curve!  Here’s my quick-start method:

1.  Why You Do The Things You Do:  Before you can build your training plan you need to know what you want to accomplish.  Sounds pretty simple but do you really know what success in triathlon means to you?  Is your goal clear, compelling, and results oriented?  If not then you need to get that clarity before moving on to the next step.
2.  Learn Your A-B-C’s:  Grab a calendar and write in all the races you want to do this coming season starting with the most important, the A races.  Then repeat this process with the next most important, the B races, and finish with the least important or training races, the C races.  Write in every possibility and you can edit it later.  Then write in all the other key dates that you know about, such as weddings, graduations, business trips, family vacations, etc. This will give you a complete picture so you can get an honest look at your year.
3.  Tee It Up:  Once you’ve scheduled your races start plugging in key training sessions, such as long runs, long rides, and long swims.  While the number of key sessions you need to perform for an A race will vary based on your goals, previous sports background and fitness level a good rule of thumb is the longer the race the more long sessions you’ll need to complete.  Give yourself plenty of time so your body can adapt and you can minimize the risk of overuse injuries, which always occur when you try to cram too much training into a short period of time.
4.  Get Real(istic):   Know what you want to accomplish in your key races, look at how many hours you can train each week, and see if the two match up.  Use realistic optimism to judge your chances of actually training at this level and be sure to include all the time required, such as drive time to and from the pool, bike maintenance, and extra time to recover after hard sessions. As an example if you’re going to do your first Ironman later this season and only have ten to twelve hours/week to train then you’re already on the edge and will need to get laser-focused on getting the most out of each training session… no junk miles for you!
5.  Play Well With Others:  Go over your plan and how you intend to execute it with the people it will directly impact.  You are not running a dictatorship, you are looking for feedback so keep your ears and mind open during the plan review.  This is the easiest time to resolve any scheduling conflicts and gain the support of your race mates whose support you’re going to need every day leading up to race day.

Your annual training plan is a living document and is unlikely to survive intact when it comes in contact with your daily life.  Don’t get too caught up in planning too many weeks and months into the future (I have learned to only plan ahead one week at a time).  Focus on what you want to accomplish, always measure your progress based on where you started from (vs. where you’re heading), and find joy in the process.

It’s what you do starting today and not what you did in the past

that will give you the future you want.

That’s it for this week.  Until next time train safe, stay healthy, and hope to see you at the races.

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