On the subject of annual training plans, at KI Coaching, we advocate that athletes do not view each year as a standalone period. We strongly believe that the process of an evolving timeline leads to ultimate success in your sporting endeavours. It enables you to grow as an athlete both physiologically and psychologically and so achieve more in sport and life.
So rather than a short-term focus of a number of months to the end of your racing in 2022, look at how what you do in 2022 creates opportunity and leads to what you anticipate doing in 2023 and even 2024. This way, as you move through the phases of your training and the events you have scheduled for 2022 you see them as parts of a much bigger picture.
As the new season is opening up, more and more races and events appear in your timeline. With the advent of Virtual Racing, there is a further list of events to whet your competitive appetite from the comfort of your trainer or treadmill.
If you have decided on your goal event for the season there are a few simple questions to ask yourself as the next race pops up in your social media feed or email:
- What is the purpose of this event?
- How does it contribute to my overall plan?
- Is there another race that may be of more benefit to the plan?
- What is the impact on my A race and plan?
Quite quickly the calendar can fill up and the risk is it becomes overstuffed. This can lead to additional fatigue due to over-racing. The way around this is to allocate your races a priority grading of importance. This helps define the training up to that point and determine the amount of work and respective intensity. This grading can be based on your personal feelings about racing that event. Is it an enjoyable day or few hours out? How do you expect to finish? Will you set a new PB at that distance or on that course? Is it a qualifying event for a Championship or the culmination of a racing journey over a couple of years?
These events are about fun and process not performance. They are great opportunities to practice elements of your race craft in a race or event setting whilst having no pressure of performance. For an endurance athlete this could be taking part in a local mountain bike event, where fun and learning about yourself is the intention of the day.
These are events that the athlete wants to do well in but aren’t goal races. They may have a specific process or performance markers, so they fit towards your A race. They need not be specific to the A race but should contribute towards it. This could be a 10km or half marathon or local time trial series for duathlete or triathlete. A long-distance bike challenge such as Gran Fondo for a runner with an Ultra event as the A race, as this leverages endurance development without time on feet. For triathletes this could be about zipping together the elements of Swim, Bike & Run in one event with a formal Transition process. It may be an opportunity to practice tactics, techniques as well as refining fuelling and hydration strategies.
These are the event(s) that you are committing to for the season. These are your focus; the pinnacle of your season. They are what all the training has led to and are very much about laying out your best performance.
Your A events will define and lay out your season and plan. These are the events that you are going to drive all your training towards to achieve your absolute goal. It could include a qualifier for a future Championship, a first outing at a particular distance or racing an iconic event that has been a life-time dream. Deciding and committing to these events early allows for your plan to develop and be set out as a map of required development. It is possible to have a small number of races that you categorise as an A event in your season, however this list should be carefully selected and placed appropriately in the season, to enable ample time for recovery. The longer the distance the more time for recovery is normally required.
There is also a term that we have adopted the Super A this may define a single event for an athlete with 2 or 3 events meeting that are A criteria. Consider the age group triathlete who has qualified for two Championship events or the person with an eye on qualifying and winning a local race series. The Super A term may be the marker that helps direct the season and the training with even more pin-point focus. It can also create that added point of focus and visualisation for the athlete in those hard sessions. It is the purpose of turning up consistently and getting work done.
Setting a season goal, another strategy that we adopt at KI Coaching. We ask our athletes to set themselves a season goal; effectively your mission statement or Ikiga “the realisation of what one hopes for”. This can be used to guide which races or events athletes choose as part of their longer term sporting success. If your intention is to achieve a qualifying time for an Age Group Championship for the following season, have you selected the best options for your A race(s). If your intention is to move towards achieving that same goal in two seasons, have you picked the best races or other training events to move you in the right direction.
Remember your success is a result of sound planning and quality purposeful training that enables you to race at your optimum level and achieve.
So, what are your A events?
Ian is a British Triathlon Level 3 High Performing Triathlon Coach. He has raced at all distances, formats, and levels over 3 decades in the sport. He seeks to enhance his athletes’ training and racing experience. He is an advocate of balanced training which offers improvements or bonuses to all aspects of an athlete’s life, not just the finish time. He is always happy to discuss your goals and training.