Whilst a few die-hards enter a state of annual denial at this time of year and compete until the final embers of the season fade out, multisport racing is all but done and dusted for 2019. Many of us will have had a little post-season rest and are now thinking about or have even started our winter training. Perhaps you are new to all this? That’s fine too since the basic principles involved in creating your 2020 season are the same regardless of whether you are a newbie or a Pro!
Before getting too carried away with training (remember it’s a long winter and you don’t want to burn out by spring!), it’s a sound idea to review what’s happened in the past and consider what you would like to achieve moving forwards (also see blog on how to evaluate your race and your season). If you are coming from a single sport background then use information from those events or think about your general fitness if you haven’t previously been a competitive sports person.
How did the last 12 months go? Did you achieve what you hoped for? What could you have done better? What worked well?
Then think about what you are looking to achieve next year (perhaps also considering any longer-term objectives that your 2020 season can offer crucial stepping stones towards). This might be to achieve an improved finishing position or time at a certain race, qualify for your country’s Age Group team and race internationally or maybe it’s simply to finish a challenging event (that could be anything from a 5k parkrun to an Iron distance event depending on your experience and focus).
I’d encourage you to be ambitious and think big at this stage. After all, half of the fun in sport is challenging us. Personally I enjoy reaching for things that are out of my comfort zone and even if I don’t achieve the result I wanted I can often take satisfaction in knowing I followed the process effectively (sometimes you can’t control what happens in a race and there will nearly always be someone faster).
Now for a dose of reality. You will also need to think about how much training time you can realistically commit to and whether this matches up with your aims and objectives. If winning your age group at the World Champs is the main focus but you can only train twice a week for example, then you might need to rethink things unless you are just supremely talented of course!
Once you’ve thought about all those things it’s time to make a brew and then get down creating a fun and challenging plan for 2020!
I tend to start this process as early as possible. Dates for most major events have already been published for next year, although some local and national events might not be known yet. This stage can take quite some time especially, if like me, you have varied sporting interests. You need to narrow the possibilities down and prioritise like you never have before! ‘You can’t do everything’ my wife will be heard saying about this time of year. Begrudgingly she is absolutely right, partly because there is always a cost to doing events, but also prioritising helps maximise your chances of success. Remember you can’t be amazing all of the time and most people can only peak once or twice a year for just a few weeks on each occasion.
Start by picking 2 or 3 ‘A races’ or events spaced out in the season where you want to achieve a specific outcome. Ideally, these objectives should complement each other in some way. Winning the 50m butterfly regional champs in the pool and the Kona Ironman World Champs might not be congruent however doing a 5km swimathon and aiming to complete a 10km open water swim is more compatible.
Consider other things you need to fit into your busy life too. This might be work related, a family holiday or maybe even a training camp.
Once you have got this far you can start to think about ‘B’ and ‘C’ events. These are events where you can test out form, equipment and nutrition or just use for race-specific training. The number and frequency of these events depend on your available time, funds and motivation levels, but again don’t burn all your matches before you’re at a race(s) and allow a little recovery each week. You might even need a mid-season break if you have a long season or are taking on a serious endurance challenge. The rest will serve you well so don’t worry about taking a few weeks off mid-season.
Whilst we have talked about being specific and having events/goals that are compatible with each other, don’t be afraid to do fun club events or something completely different too. Sometimes you need to give your mind a rest even if the body is doing OK. After all most of us do this for fun, right?!
Have a great winter and enjoy 2020!!
Written by Zone3 Ambassador Iain Dawson