What’s the best way to plan for 2018?
At this time of year, in the midst of the festivities, thoughts naturally turn towards the new season. Whether you’ve come off the back of a year of PBs, podium glory, frustrating injury, fluctuating motivation or a solid, unspectacular year it’s in our nature as athletes to look forward to 2018.
So here are three simple steps to putting together the right plan for 2018.
- Don’t look back in Anger, but do look back!
Most of the athletes I coach are what I would call “Type A” personalities. Psychologists call them ‘goal orientated’ individuals. Extroverted and all about achieving, moving forward with not many glances over the shoulder to look back.
However when looking at 2018 I think there is a sense in which we need to go ’back to the future’. We need to ask three really simple questions of 2017: what went well, what didn’t go well and what should I do differently next season.
You only want to think about things that happened you can control e.g. you cant control which competition show up, weather effects, dates of events moving around or bouts of illness but you can control your preparation, pacing and training. Here’s my example – what would yours look like?
So, What went well? I focused on nutrition closely for the first four months and it paid off over the rest of the year. I learned that the investment I made in Core work, where I gave up some running volume/time in exchange for a weekly Core session paid off handsomely.
What didn’t go well? Some of my prep for races wasn’t great – I had a couple of mechanical issues in races which were entirely avoidable. I overdid the weights work in the early season, mainly as I enjoy it, which often left me too tired for key sessions.
Do differently in 2018 – well, its about keeping the focus on core and nutrition and trying to build a little bit more volume into the plan, but in a ‘family friendly’ way and a way where I can absorb the training effect.
- Set SMART goals for the new year
Goals focus us, give us the mojo to train and make us get out of bed early to get key sessions done. Make sure your goals are “SMART” – use this simple test to sharpen up your new season goals – test each of your goals against this list:
S = Simple: Nice and easily understood.
M = Measurable: How do you know you’ve hit the goal?
A = Achievable: Make your goals fantastic if you hit them…but not fantasy and too challenging.
R = Relevant: Make sure your goal fits with your training,
T = Time bound: Give it a date and a deadline to achieve it.
So, my main goal for 2018 is to beat my 2008 Wimbleball HIM time. Same course, same person, different weather and a faster time! I’m happy with that as a main goal, I know what it is, when it is and it’s a measurable time target and ultimately I can control most of the key variables, after all I am racing against a younger version of myself.
So what’s your key goal for 2018 and how will you know when you have hit it?
- Pick the right prep races
Get a calendar and put in one or two ‘A’ races which are the focus of your whole season. It’s a good idea to space these out eg a early season race and a late season race. Make sure these events have space for you and book yourself in.
Once you have the A races in the calendar add some ‘B’ races. These are smaller, less important races you do on the way to your A races. Make sure that your B races build towards your major race of the season. For example, I’m looking at Long Course this coming year so working my way up the run and bike distances towards 65m Sportives and Half Marathons – roughly a B race a month for 3 months leading up to the A race of Wimbleball.
Try and place your races at sensible intervals apart so that you have time to train and then use these B races as mini time trials. Don’t over emphasise them – they are stepping stones on the way to achieving your A races. And once you have a plan, try and stick with it as that’s all part of the learning process.
Whatever you decide – enjoy it and have a happy and healthy 2018!