Planning Ahead for Next Season

Break out the calendar and start setting some goals for next year's season!
The end of one season is the beginning of another. Your training and racing this past season has taught you a great deal about your strengths and weaknesses, about your mind and body. While the lessons are still fresh in your mind, use them to create an actionable plan for an even better season next year.

You are probably familiar with the 80/20 rule: 20 percent of our activities generate 80 percent of our results. Conversely, 80 percent of our activities produce only 20 percent of our results. It's easy to fall into the trap of spending our time on trivial details that don't produce results. The goal of this article is to help focus on only those key activities that can start delivering immediately.

To start, you'll need a paper and pencil (or your computer screen), a copy of your current year goals and events and a calendar. And a few minutes of quiet time.

Step 1

Review the goals you set for yourself for this season. (You did have goals, right?) Rewrite each of your goals, and then your results. Compare the two. Did you attain your goal? If so, what was the determining factor for your success? Write it down. For the goals you did not achieve, describe why you came up short. Be as detailed as possible, and be honest with yourself.

Step 2

Write down your weaknesses. Again, be honest with yourself. Then prioritize them from most important to least, and detail how you plan to address each of them. While they may never become your strengths, the weakest link in the chain can often determine your level of success, so any improvement will benefit you.

Keep in mind that weaknesses can take many shapes. They may include the obvious, such as lack of climbing power, poor pedaling mechanics, poor swimming technique or general lack of endurance. They may also include less obvious topics, such as poor nutrition habits, lack of mental preparation, poor planning and goal setting and poor record keeping (training log) to name a few.

Step 3

Focus first on the most obvious opportunity for improvement and the one that you can impact the most dramatically. Determine a plan of action for this one piece of the puzzle. Set a specific desired end result and timetable for this, then move on to the next. Keeping the 80/20 rule in mind, focus on the big opportunities. Don't get bogged down with trivial issues.

Step 4

Now look at your strengths. You may have heard the saying, "Train your weaknesses and race your strengths." How can you use your strengths to your advantage? Which races and/or event courses complement your strengths?

Step 5

Now shift your focus to the upcoming season. What is that critical thing, that one thing you feel you simply must do or accomplish next season so that when you look back, you'll be able to proclaim the season a "success?" Consider the big picture first, and not the specific detail of individual events or races.

Step 6

Consider the critical, key, "must have" goal in Step 5, and set actionable steps to achieve it, along with timelines. As you do this, keep the 80/20 rule in mind. Focus on those big, important activities that will generate most of your results.

For example, is losing 15 pounds critically important to you? Is this one of the most important factors to help you race faster and feel and look better? Will next season be a success to you if you lose the weight? Improved nutrition is an overlooked but critical area of focus. Rather than go on a diet to lose the 15 pounds, how will you learn to feed and fuel yourself properly so that you never have to diet again?

Is a structured, periodized training plan critical to your success? First, plan your year in a detailed fashion, then follow the plan. Many athletes don't have a plan and train in a hodge-podge fashion, or they simply do what the group wants to do that particular day. Other athletes have a plan but don't stick to it. Either of these errors guarantees that you will not reach your full potential.

Ultrafit coaches and athletes use a detailed planning process, which starts with the overall picture and gets more detailed until each block of training is planned. Feel free to contact me for help in planning your training year and event calendar. My hope is that this step-by-step guide can help you assess your season and can give you a head start to making next year your best ever. You will also receive a free report, "Weight Loss Secrets Revealed."

Bob McEnaney has successfully trained and coached hundreds of athletes to great performances and personal records for over 30 years. He is certified by USA Triathlon and USA Cycling, as well as a certified personal trainer though the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Contact him at

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