Athletes update, Training Plans, Viewpoint

Goals – Time for a mid season review?

Wow. Its July already!  How did that happen?!  For many of you we will be right in the middle of the racing season.  Those SMART goals that you set back in the winter may well have already been achieved.  For others key races will be just around the corner as we see the key UK National Time Trials, Road races and European Ironman races approach.

So now is a great time to review those goals we set ourselves.

So what now?  There are likely 3 scenario’s here:

  1. Key season goal achieved!  Well done!
  2. Your key races are right around the corner.. Keep focused!
  3. You have not managed to achieve those goals (yet)

So what do we do now?  Let’s answer that question holistically, and then addressing each of the 3 scenario’s individually.

The reason we set those SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals was to give us focus for our training, a key ‘point in time’ to peak for and a key measure of success.  As we approach the time of goal attainment its useful to reappraise them,and then set new ones.  In the below link I discussed SMART goals and looking ahead to the next season

2018 – End of season review

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It is sometimes easy to see the goal as a ‘finish line’.  You have been working to this point and now you have crossed that finish line, its all over.  The danger with this approach or mentality is that once you have achieved the goal you can be in danger of feeling flat and deflated.  You may feel directionless, ‘What now?’.

Most professional athletes have a longer term plan, with interim goals seasonally, and within micro cycles in that season.  In many ways the ‘goals’ are interim stepping stones.  This approach is great to keep focused and motivated.  Although it has its drawbacks.  Its interesting reading both Geriant Thomas’s Book and hearing from Bradley Wiggin’s who describe the inside workings of Team Sky (now Ineos) and how achievement of even major goals, such as winning the Tour De France, are not really celebrated.  They are ‘ticked’ off, with little celebration or fanfare, the cycle begins again towards the next.  For me this is probably the opposite extreme!  As my athletes hit peak races and achieve goals I am very much encouraging a time of celebration, reflection and recovery.

The mental, as well as physical stress from the training process, build up and then execution of your key events is huge.  Combined with busy family and work lives its often easy to under estimate the emotional and physical effects of this.  Not only on you, but on those around you.

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I am very keen on my athletes taking some time after key races to lose the structure, enjoy a break from the regimented routine and recharge.  Its a great time to engage with the family, do something none sport related and enjoy a mental and physical break.  I am not advocating a total shut down here, but more some unstructured time.  If you feel like a ride, run or swim then great!  If not don’t.  Just kick back and relax a bit.

The BUT here is, don’t get out the ‘habit’ for too long.  Within this period I will be encouraging athletes to work with me to analyse how the period went, how the goal was achieved and what we can learn.  Also to start thinking ahead to what the next target will be.

At this point, taking lessons from the professional’s approach can be really helpful.  having a longer term ‘macro plan’, be it 2/3 or 5 years can really help focus.  Where do you want to be in that period of time?  What are the stepping stones and key miles stones to get there?

This approach not only gives you focus over a longer period of time, but enables you to build in that all important down time and recovery times between achievement of each stepping stone.  The time to reflect, reappraise and re-plan (if needed).  Goals are not necessarily fixed and finite, but can be relative fluid and adapted as you progress.

So let’s go back to the scenario’s posed above

  1. Goal achieved!
    1. Great!  the hard work, focus and dedication has paid off.  What now?  as above my advice here is:
      1. Have that unstructured mental & physical recovery time, Have a holiday or a decent break, get back to enjoying what you do with no power numbers to hit, or split times to deliver.
      2. Reflect, what went well? What could be improved? What have you learnt? How do you apply that learning?
      3. If you haven’t a next goal in mind, start to plan this.  take the learning’s from above and work at how you can build on this to deliver another great achievement
      4. Set those next SMART objectives, this will be a massive motivator when you do get back to it!
      5. DON’T take too long a break.  Most of who are used to training regularly will know that feeling , and how horrible it is, when you come back to structured training after an extended lay off.  My advice here is don’t take too long a break, the time to ‘get back into the groove’ will only take longer.
    2. Key races are coming!
      1. You are likely in the ‘peaking phase’ now,  tweaking the fitness and specific skills required to deliver that key Goal.  Its also likely overall volume may drop.  As tempting as it is, when the sun is shining to just ‘get out there’, try and avoid this.  the last thing you want to do is sabotage your race just because it was ‘too nice to not train!’.
        1. One of the key observations, as a coach at this time of year is the need to hold athletes back from overdoing it.  I am often counselling athletes to stick to the plan NOT do that extra session and embrace the extra recovery time.  Your body will need it from the (likely) intense efforts you will be doing in training.
      2. Make sure you have that post goal, unstructured period planned in. Don’t just get right back on the treadmill straight after.  take the time to do all the things discussed in point 1.
    3. Goal NOT achieved.
      1. Now is a good time to reflect on why.  Was it lack of training, specific to your event? Was it circumstances beyond your control? Was it that the SMART goal was simply too stretching to achieve at this point in your athletic career?
        1. Its really important to be honest, objective and rationale here.  This is not something to be done the evening after the key race over a few beers – the answers will not come like that!
        2. Having an independent and objective adviser, a coach, mentor, or fellow athlete to help here can be invaluable.
      2. After you have appraised the above, its simply a case of going back to the points covered in point 1, re-calibrating and setting your next SMART goals

Now may also be the time, under any scenario, to reappraise your kit, your set up and your approach.  What could I gain , or optimise that will help me achieve more stretching goals?

I wrote an article discussing key bike racing kit and how to think about optimising that is available to read here Kit upgrades – what’s the best choice for ‘freespeed’?

Maybe you would benefit from a bike fit or aero wind tunnel session?  Have a read about them here

Why should I have a bike fit?

Aero optimisation in the wind tunnel

Finally just to reiterate,  reviewing your Goals in a mid season review is time well spent. Refocus, readjust and re-plan.  Don’t stagnate and stand still!

Hope it was useful!

Andy

Andy-Jackson-Peaks-So

 

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