For me it’s that time of year. Training and Race Planning for next year alongside the athletes I work with.
From now until the same time next year, with ongoing review through the coming months, this is an important process. There is so much to think through, far too many events in the calendar that excite or represent a challenge. For some it is about the competition and entering a race series, perhaps looking at selection races for international representation.
Yet the simplicity of just choosing a selection of races for some is planning enough. If only it was that simple if you are looking for ongoing sustainable improvement.
Yes, think ahead, definitely a good idea. Yet, more importantly start with today, the runner you are and the runner you want to be.
Strength’s, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Your own strength’s and Weaknesses are perhaps the most fundamental to all of this. Begin by drawing a grid and then let the ‘thinking’ begin.
Review both your training and racing from the previous period. It is too easy to say, ‘I want to be faster or that I want to run that distance without fading’. It is important to look beyond that over all objective and look at what the required training components are. Take the development of speed for a 10k race. Did you start of well, a negative split on the cards and then the speed just tailed off despite things not feeling so tough? This could be strength you are lacking, therefore speed-endurance. So potentially two for the Weaknesses box. On the other hand you find your difficulty lies in not tiring through a longer event, everything just goes south. Yet in training the distance looks like it should be OK. So a review of your base aerobic endurance requires some thought.
Strengths should be added as they come to mind or if you worked on something particular through the last year, then now’s the chance to see if your objectives have been meet.
Training Foundation: In reviewing your training and racing every elite athlete will review their training foundation and preparation. They are the base, the foundation for all the work to come. They are key to this review process and include:
- Running Technique, up, down and along the flat.
- Core Strength and Stability
- Aerobic Endurance
- Running Strength (hills)
- Training Consistency
- Daily Nutrition
- Work Life Balance
- Available Training Time
From here you begin the process of reviewing the training Opportunities, that you now have. Now that’s good news, you have something to be going out, not weaknessess, Opportunities! In taking those Opportunities you can’t tackle them all in one go. Create a list of them in importance, always beginning with the foundations of what is required to prepare you for the coming training period and into you racing year. This is always the difficult part in all this, when you have your Opportunity list is when should you be doing what? That’s always tough and this is where a knowledgeable coach can step in to help.
Training or Race Goals?
Clearly the SWOT you have completed is geared towards you. That’s pretty important and clearly helps to focus you and your training. So here’s the big question. Does the Training Opportunities and your current Strengths match with your planned event goal? If not what’s the impact on you likely to be? Oh that’s important… In truth and for best progress your SWOT should match your event plans, at risk of an event becoming a Threat. Yes, you can SWOT the events you are looking at. So are the two aligned, at least for the most part? A stretch event can clearly benefit the training process and provide a little more incentive, yet not too much of a stretch.
So taking the time to SWOT ‘up’ is no bad thing. It should be an ongoing process, it will help to focus your training and to ensure your foundation and preparation through the winter and spring is in far better shape for the racing plans you have ahead.