That’s the common question on every athlete’s mind when the first race of the season is done. Now what??? And it’s a question frequently asked in May, when many athletes have competed in at least one event, and in the case of our collegiate athletes, they have already gone through a short season with an “A” race. So, how do you get from Race #1 to Race #2?
Whether it’s a runner in Afghanistan, a triathlete just starting the season or our collegiates who have another short season coming up when classes resume, I’ve always got a quick answer to the Now what??? question. The answer lies in the Annual Training Plan that we established.
Unless Race #1 results with a physical mishap, or some other significant life event intervenes, your performance in Race #1, whether it is good or bad, does not change your Annual Training Plan. While you were focused on training for Race #1, we had already drawn up a roadmap of what it would take, and when, to prepare for Race #2, and #3, and so on. We already had a concept that the weeks after your first race would include, for example, more volume, or a focus week on swimming, or maybe extra hill repeats to prepare for the next tough event.
What should change, based on your performance at Race #1, is the toolset of things we can apply to the ATP. The duathlete above recorded an Intensity Factor on his bike ride of 1.10, meaning in layman’s terms that he literally gave 110% effort. More likely, I had underestimated his bicycling capability, and now I have more tools at my disposal as a coach to apply to the duathlete’s ATP based on his demonstrated improvement. A different athlete of mine had muscle cramps during the run at the notoriously difficult course at St. George. From that experience, we’ve tailored his training to improve his resiliency to cramping for his Race #2, a similarly challenging iron-distance triathlon.
The key message is, to get to Race #2 from Race #1, you need a plan. What happens at Race #1 doesn’t create a plan to get you to the start line for Race #2. It only informs you about what you can do within the plan that should already exist. Whether you come away from Race #1 with nothing but smiles, or nothing but scars, having a solid plan is the foundation and the guide to make your next race 110% better than you’d expect.