article by Jake Lawrence
No matter the result, the last race of the season is a culmination of a long process of work, rest and racing. The good, the bad and the ugly may have all played a part in the athlete you are at that final race. Upon completion, the time to reflect and analyze is upon you.
Being diligent and thorough in your analysis should play a key role in setting next season’s race calendar. The ending of one season is the beginning of the next. Riding the wave of motivation into a productive off season, focusing on your goals for next season, and training diligently to put your best self on the starting line of your “A” race is paramount to achieving your full potential as an endurance athlete.
Reflect on the season as a whole: Your family life, your work life, your spiritual life and your training. Analyze your stresses, if any, and make note of their effect on your training. Happy people make happy athletes!
Use your motivation to plan a race schedule that suits your lifestyle, including demands and commitments outside of your athletics. This may mean planning a family vacation that includes your “A” race, or it may mean racing locally and exploring the options in your local endurance sports scene.
Further reflection may find you setting a goal for one to two years down the line. This is a great tactic to employ when thinking of exploring the ultra-distance events of endurance sports as it often involves transforming yourself into a completely different athlete.
If you are coming off your first racing season, I’m speaking about you, but if you’ve been in the game for awhile, I’m working to circle you back to where you started.
Remember the feeling of finishing your first race? One that you planned for, trained a little or a lot for, and came away thinking of the myriad number of ways you could improve? When you reduce expectation, stop the comparisons, and decrease pressure, the racing becomes or stays fun!
Experienced racers can utilize this by mixing up their racing and training. Setting goals for the following season that add to your repertoire, develop a new skillset, or focus on a new distance may be the spark that’s needed to stoke your motivation.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes the third-party view is exactly what is needed. It’s easy to think you are in a unique place, but the reality of it is that others have been where you are now, thinking the same thoughts.
Maybe you’ve wanted to hire a personal trainer to work on core strength and balance. You may also recognize a need for a running, swimming or cycling coach to help you manage your training, work on weaknesses, or enhance your skills.
Now is the time to do so! Jumping into this process after a short rest and recovery period allows you to harness the motivation from your last event. Roll it forward and keep improving.
You can learn a lot about yourself in reflection and there is no better time to reflect than after your last race. Take an honest look at the season as a whole (family, work, racing) and use the motivation of that final race to plan a killer next year.
Jake Lawrence is the owner of Xclusive Fitness, a personal training, and endurance sports coaching business in St. Paul, MN. With specializations in performance enhancement and corrective exercise from NASM and triathlon coaching from ITCA, Jake is passionate about the health and performance of his athletes. A passion for ultramarathon trail running, highlighted by the completion of over 25 ultramarathons, including six 100+ mile race finishes is the driving force behind his racing and athlete coaching since 2011. He’s also a frequent contributor to the TrainingPeaks Blog.
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