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5 steps to help you plan for next season

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This is the time of year when we begin to reflect upon the past racing season and plan for the one ahead. TrainingPeaks, British Triathlon’s Official Training Software Supplier have handily provided 5 steps to help get you started.

By Philip Hatzis

Now is the perfect time to start putting together an annual training plan, which can help to ensure training is more specific to the type of events you have in mind for 2017. You’ll also find that tailoring your program to your individual requirements will make the effort you put into the planning seem much more rewarding when you get the results you want next year. If you are using TrainingPeaks’ Annual Training Plan (ATP), you’ll not only be able to plan by duration but also by Training Stress Score (TSS) or Fitness (CTL), which can help you on the journey towards peaking for your main races.

1. Outline Your Season

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail” - Benjamin Franklin 

The Annual Training Plan is the backbone of the upcoming season. It plants the direction and outline of how things will progress at a macro (training 'phase') level. Everyone is aware of the fact that meso (training 'block') or micro (training ‘week’) scale targets need to be frequently adjusted throughout the season. However, the season plan always remains more static. At the end of the day, the date of the world championship event won’t be moved, nor the qualifier or the first triathlon you have signed up for. All of these dates will be fixed in time. The great thing about training towards a desired Fitness (CTL) value or TSS per week is that there is a lot of scope for ingenuity without over stressing yourself. There becomes more flexibility in a plan. That, combined with understanding the phase of training, and tracking the right metrics, makes it easy to stay on top of the correct training dosage and constantly adapting how you achieve a plan without ‘operating’ on the backbone!

2. Define Your Fitness Goals

“The Main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing” - Stephen Covey 

Defining the goal is critical and you can look at setting a target for racing based on Fitness (CTL) and Functional Threshold Power (FTP) values. As the season progresses and training is started, it may be that these values are changed or refined. However, the actual goal is still consistent. Using a Fitness (CTL) value for the ATP or TSS values for training takes the focus partly away from “doing hours” or “intensity” which are very vague and helps keep focus on a measurable objective.

3. Review Your Past Season

“Study the past if you would define the future” - Confucius

It is always important to go back over the previous season and ask yourself the questions around what went well and what could be improved. Examples include:

  • Can certain power, pace or swim values be identified that could be improved to help achieve the goal?
  • What about that point in the season where injury, illness or fatigue got in the way, what are the Acute Training Load values or the ramp rates that shouldn’t be exceeded?
  • What Training Stress Balance (TSB) worked best when racing B-priority races, what was an ideal TSB value for racing at the A-priority race.
  • How do the above points change for different sports?
  • What are the sport specific metrics, the race specific metrics that need to be monitored for the next season?

All of these points (and a host of others surrounding age, gender, time in sport, life, work, balance etc.) can affect the ATP. These can be allowed for, modified and exploited or avoided depending on what needs to be achieved. It is useful now to set out the targets and the goals based on historic data, and predicted training responses.

4. Carefully Calculate Your Training

“It’s a funny thing, the more I practice, the luckier I get” - Arnold Palmer

Based on targeting Fitness (CTL), the TSS per week can be calculated (or TrainingPeaks can do this automatically) which means you can ensure you are training to the desired training stress of the race and then the intensity of the race.

For example, someone doing a middle-distance race, may need to look at training for a bike TSS of about 150. They may be aiming for an Intensity Factor®(IF®) of about 0.75. In training that looks like a ride of about 2:40 hours at that IF to reach that training stress, specific to the race. In the base phase, that may look more like a 4 hour ride at an IF of 0.61. This could be increased through the season to the desired IF. Suddenly, organising the training micro cycle by budgeting dosages of training, or TSS per day, setting training and response becomes a lot more accurate as long as there is a reason behind it.

5. Pay Attention to the Details

As is often said, it is important to note that the TSS is never equal between sports. Having a different target Fitness (CTL) and ramp rate for different sports helps to negate that. Also, keeping a constant and up-to-date eye on key metrics such as: sFTP, threshold pace, and other inputs to the Performance Management Chart that affect the credibility of the plan are critical to ensuring that training is going in the right direction and what is being planned is accurate.

However, life can throw people lemons. Irrespective of how much fine tuning and planning goes into it, real life gets in the way; “stuff” happens. The better understood all these intricate parts of planning are, the easier it is to adapt a plan and roll with the punch rather than lie on the floor wondering what just happened. Without monitoring, adapting and improving the plan, the plan is obsolete.

TrainingPeaks offer Home Nation members a 20% discount on a new or upgrade from basic, ‘Premium Athlete’ account on Training Peaks and TrainingPeaks Coach Edition, the award winning software that helps you plan and track your training and racing to get the most out of your season.

Read the full article here or to find out more about TrainingPeaks check out their website here.

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