Past trends and future Success
With the heart of the season behind you its time to reflect and reassess. If your season started in January-you now have 5 months of training and racing to evaluate. Before forging ahead lets reflect on what went well, when you had the best form, what were you doing during that time period, map motivational trends, and track growth over the prior year. Many self-coached or new athletes that come into my process have aspirations of growth on a number of different levels. These aspirations require an action plan. Without it they are nothing more than wishful thinking. For simplicity I am going to touch on the 3 most common areas I find myself speaking to.
The data exists now its time to make it work for you. Start by identifying the fitness level and correlating power data particular to your A race or targeted events. If your training plan worked you should have shown up to your targeted events motivated, with fresh legs and great form in turn offering you the ability to replicate some of your best power outputs. For future reference, identify what you did 8-12 weeks leading up to that point in time. Sound benchmarks are cumulative ride times, weekly TSS (training stress score) and IF (intensity factor), and a precise break down of weekly ride time in particular zones. Use race data leading to your taper and peak as these events offer powerful data useful in charting future trajectory.
If you didnt show up with good legs or under preformed its time to take a closer look and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
Was I following a structured training plan centralized on strengthening my weakness and honing my strengths with regard to the demands of events I wanted to do well in?
Does the raw power data and more importantly the plan you followed show growth?
Was my fitness hit or miss or was I always at the same general level?
The answers to these rather basic questions tell if the approach is one that can be used going forward or if its time to go back to the drawing board. Lastly, this analytical approach will help identify what worked, and may lead you to the why and how much.
Your power was great, legs were there, but you didnt walk away from the events with the result you were looking for. If you find yourself in this situation or one similar youll want to think about the following: Identify how your target events played out. Did you race your quantifiable strength in a proactive manner or were you letting the others force feed the race to you? Equally important is to pinpoint where in the race you dropped your peak outputs. There is a very common trend amongst files I see where the individual had good form yet underperformed. The trend is a high concentration of the peak power outputs in the early stages of the race. Most often times I find them in the first half of the race. Probability says the race will be determined in the second half or in most instances the 4th quarter.
Is this typical when you go back and look at prior race files? If so its time for a different approach. The tactical miss generally stems from ones inability to read the race and alter their tactical approach real time. Honing this attribute comes from repetition, practice, and looking back at each event with an analytical and objective mind. A great entry point into growing your tactical prowess is to draw up a plan A and a Plan B for all races. If your initial plan fails, revert to the fall back approach. Following the race take notes touching on what you did well tactically and where you fell short. This is your tactical reference guide going forward. When looking inward try and touch on the below:
Were you in the race or were you spectating? Meaning did you identify the tone of the race and the tactics others were using?
How was the race won and where do you stand in that equation? For instance, if it was a field sprint were you well positioned to podium in the last kilometer? Additionally, were you mentally invested into the race?
Was your result indicative or your fitness, your tactics or a culmination of both?
Were you working too hard and too often? Typical race winning files reflect 60% cumulative time below FTP (functional threshold power) and 15-20% of the event in the 0-20 watt range. Look at your prior files with this benchmark in mind and chart results. Trends will undoubtedly surface.
Its not uncommon to have a fit athlete with sound tactics arrive at a marquee event with a high level of anxiety or a low motivation level. What was your mental state leading up to your targeted events? Was there a correlation between the training stress and personal obligations? The objective is to identify the mindset you had and the balance, or imbalance that brought you to that point. This information offers tangibles you can use to alter things going forward or potentially replicate a seamless run in. If you mind isnt right come game time your fitness and tactics take a back seat. One of the most common themes in this category is a high level of imbalance with regard to the athletes personal/professional life in relation to their training and racing. Over time and unaddressed this imbalance leads to burnout or poor recovery along with anxiety and personal turmoil on a number of levels. If this is you, try the following
Keep a journal and track your motivation over the course of the season.
Identify emotional trends and what spurs them on.
Have a support system in place or someone to bounce emotions off as your season winds on. Someone who supports your goals and will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
We are just scratching the surface of 3 very elaborate topics, all of which have a myriad of alternate speaking points. The underlying goal here is a balanced and complete racer. Look closely at your season thus far and identify potential areas for growth and build from there. Start globally and make changes over time. Track your progression and revisit it over time. Remember, nothing touched on in the above speaking points is constant. Races, just like your life and training are forever moving in turn requiring continuous change. Be fluid, embrace the changes and be proactive with your approach. If you cant align the pieces or need a second set of eyes call or email me.