It’s the most important question to ask yourself when you’re finishing up your season, and looking towards the next. It’s important to carefully assess how your training and racing went this season before you can truly plan for the upcoming year.
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The end of the season is the is the point where you have to take a really objective and critical examination of how closely your season followed your plan.
Doing a season review is best done with a trusted partner. Getting together with a trusted cycling buddy or coach becomes invaluable to cut through our natural tendency to rationalise away our successes and shortcomings. Having another person is all about looking for training patterns that you may not recognise.
It’s also about some tough love. Having an objective as possible way to assess your strength and weakness in your training and racing, so moving forward you are not kidding yourself, and wasting time and effort.
As part of your review you will want to note the answers to the following 7 questions:
1. Did you meet your racing goals?
Analyse your key races carefully. You might of already done this after the race, but some time and your trusted partner might give you an insight into how you rode.
Things like, if you missed the key break or move, was it tactical, physical, positioning? Was it because you blew up halfway up the 6 k climb? Were you in the final break but lost because of your sprint?
This is critical information in order to truly identify the areas you need to focus your training upon. You might already have yourself pegged as a certain type of rider, but my hope is that looking at your races this way will either confirm that, or make you look at the facts to reconsider where you’re at.
Note down: 3 tactical elements that need work, and 3 that are good. Do the same for your physiological elements, note 3 or each strong and weak.
2. Do your training efforts truly replicate what is needed during competition?
Take a look through your racing and training data files. If possible, the best place to make direct comparisons in software like WKO+ but it can be done without it. Take note of your exact workload across the different types of races you compete in.
Do the same thing with your training data. How do they match? Is it a case of just not being fit or strong enough to keep up, but you are doing the right type of work? Or are you doing most of your rides at tempo or steady state, but your races require constant accelerations and recovery?
Now is the time to work out your 80/20 because it should become quite clear what how your body responded to racing – what is the 20 percent of your training that makes up 80 percent of the results?
3. What else worked this year?
Firstly, this is where another person comes into there own here. If you didn’t meet your goals – there might of been aeras of your training that were a success.
An easy way to do give yourself a visual cue is to mark great days when you have them. Then when you look back you can look at the different areas that made it possible. It could be any number of things, but what it’s really all about is knowing how your body responds to training and how to plan training peaks. You are basically looking to understand exactly what went right so that you can replicate it.
If your tapering worked, you want to know exactly what you did right. If you found it easy to sprint for KOMs, you need to understand that strength, and work backwards.
Go back and match these to your tactical and physiological strengths from the first question. Do they match up?
4. Did you meet your training goals?
Specifically, where you able to meet your planned weekly Training volume? How close were you to your set target. Do you need to be more realistic with the time you have next season? Did you not factor in planning, or having a flat tire before going out to ride – like my two flats this week.
This one is fairly obvious, and there a lot of variables that contribute to it. But putting it down on paper will make it easy to stick to when putting your ATP together.
5. Did you meet your fitness goals?
Whatever performance metric you use – what improvement did you see? Did you set a goal, and did you reach it? Again this feeds into forming a realistic picture of your limiters and strengths. Looking over your power ranges, was there any greater gains in made in one area over another? Did you train those specially? Or did they just occur naturally?
And again, do they confirm what type of rider you think you are, or do they contradict your positioning as a sprinter for example?
6. Did you miss any large chunks from your original program?
Were they due to illness, family or work commitments? How effective were your adjustments to these changes? You need this information in order to plan for future inevitable setbacks to your new plan.
This leads into the next question perfectly…
7. How quickly did you recover from hard workouts or heavy periods of training?
What are your signs of overtraining? Everybody responds to training and recovers at different rates, and you need to program your training based on your own parameters.
The Performance Management Chart is great for looking back across a season and finding the spots where you got sick, or were on the verge of overtraining. Noting where your load was, or any overly fast rises in training can help you avoid these next season.
While we’re on the topic of data…
Now is also the perfect time to set up your ability to track trends, and a good motivating way to get you started is by pulling this seasons data out.
What metrics do you record? What metrics do you keep an eye on? Finding a meaningful way to compile this data is where you will get your best feedback. Season long trends like Power and weight trending are a great way to check your fitness at certain times of the years. I have used HRV and TRIMP to see how my training load is affecting my recovery.
Once your season has been reviewed and put on paper, your mind is free to think about all those other parts of your life such or nothing at all.
By the way…what are you doing this off-season?
- Buying new equipment?
- Changing your position?
- Getting a physical examination?
- Tweaking your aero position?
I know one thing that makes a huge difference to your whole season but, let’s get into that next week…
Photo Credit: inewforest on Flickr