By Terri Schneider, motivational speaker, author, coach and sport psychology consultant.
Part of planning a race season involves revisiting your athletic goals for the year. You may decide to stick to shorter events for the whole season or your whole career and continue to refine your speed and skill base. Or, you may decide to hit your goal of finishing a sprint race early season, then plan to take on a longer distance event in the fall. In any case, planning your season starts with looking at your long-range goals, then sitting down and making a race wish list.
Your wish list will include the dates, names, and distances of ALL events you are interested in participating. In addition to your main sport focus (i.e. triathlon, or adventure racing), I recommend adding 10Ks, century rides, a backpacking trip with the family—anything that requires time, is physical in nature, or may affect your consistent training program. All of these activities will affect how you race and should be reviewed in total.
Then categorize each event on your wish list into the following:
These are the most important to you in reference to performance. You want to get a personal best or have a peak performance. Usually an athlete will have one to three A races a season. These are the ones you want to prime for.
These are important but not enough to generate a complete taper for or plan your season around. You want to be relatively rested for a B race, but not necessarily in peak form. B races are excellent events to use as benchmark events—to test your fitness, try a new fuel plan, new bike, or race pace.
These are events you want to do for fun, camaraderie, and as a diversion to training, but you are willing to train through them if needed to shoot for a better performance at an A or B race.
Now take a look at whether the events in total complement your ultimate goal of doing well at your A races. This means that you have weeks before your A races to generate some solid cycles of training and to be best set up for an effective taper.
Can you race too much? Yes. There is a school of thought that regular A races are just the kind of training you need in order to hit peak form. I disagree. Events are an excellent means to test your fitness in a strong physical, mental, and emotional effort, but in order to race really well in at least a few events each season, you need some recovery time prior to each race. If you push hard in an A race, you need some recovery time post-race as well. Recovery time ranges from a few days to a week or more (for longer events) when you are diminishing the volume and intensity of your training in order to prepare for or recover from an event. If you do this too frequently—even twice per month consistently—you will lose some fitness.
If you are willing to train through (sticking to your build cycles pre-and post-race) some of your B and C races in order to keep a positive training progression, you may not lose fitness but you might be adding too much stress to your training regime.
Some like to race frequently because they enjoy the ambiance of the racing community, and it gives them motivation to push hard. Those are excellent reasons for putting your money down. But if you desire one or two peak performances in your season, you are better off choosing a couple of A races in each season, then throwing in B and C triathlons with some other form of training events added for spice.
The sample event calendar gives you an idea of how you might put together a full season in the sport of triathlon. This sample can be mimicked for any sport. This athlete’s season goals are to peak at his A races and do his first half-Ironman event, while adding some additional non-triathlon-specific events to refine his skills and keep the season interesting and fun. Before the season and in between events, he is building his training toward his most important season race—his half-Ironman—only taking full taper and recovery before and after A races.
Sample Event Calendar
Date Event Category Additional Goals
1st weekend 10K run B test fitness
3rd weekend 100K ride C fun ride, train through
2nd weekend sprint tri B test fitness, practice transitions
3rd weekend 1 mile swim C test fitness, train through
2nd weekend intl tri A personal record on course
4th weekend off-road tri C fun race in the location of my next endeavor…
1st week backpacking trip with family
4th weekend sprint tri B test fitness
3rd weekend intl tri B test new bike/fuel plan
2nd weekend half marathon run
100K ride C training events on one weekend
2nd weekend half-Ironman A finish strong!
As an adventure racer, ultra runner, mountaineer and professional triathlete, Terri has raced and adventured in over 70 countries and has established herself as one of the most experienced and diverse multi-sport coaches, consultants and endurance athletes on the planet. She has degrees in exercise physiology and sport psychology, has over 25 years of endurance coaching experience, and has authored and contributed to several books. Terri is available as a guest speaker or coach at your next meeting, seminar or camp.
Learn more at www.terrischneider.net