Planning next year...

It might not be proper winter time yet (I write this in October and it’s still very mild) but if they haven’t already done so, your mind should be now thinking about your winter training and your goals for next year.

Your first task should be to think about your race plan for next year.

First, decide what is your number one goal: first triathlon; age-group qualification; 70.3; 10k swim - to name just a few potential goals. This is your ‘A’ race or races.

Second, do you have any sub-goals: fit in some races in your club or local league; take part in a supporting event for your ‘A’ race, like a long sportive or long open water race; are there any early season run events which might be good to sharpen your run skills and form? These will be your ‘B’ races and are all about setting you up for your ‘A’ race and have two other purposes - they help you hone your race skills and also to let you have some fun races with less pressure.

Third, at what point in the season would it be best to tackle this goal? How do you decide this? Well, it needs you to answer some questions…. Do you run out of steam by the end of the season? Are you better with a long build up with some shorter races? How experienced are you as an athlete? How many seasonal goals are you going to set yourself? What your your other commitments (especially if you have a family)?

Once you have this information, sit down with a drink and a couple of hours to spare and start looking at the BTF website and trawling the internet to see which races are on when. Write a long list/spreadsheet with all the necessary info: race distance, location, is it a qualifier? A or B race potential. That’s your potential race list. Decide on your ‘A’ race and then work back from there making sure that you have adequate R&R periods between races and that if you’re building race distances that you do it sensibly. Much depends on your race experience, so if you’re new to the sport take it slowly, don’t rush it and choose the distances and events which suit you and your lifestyle.

If you have two or more ‘A’ races in mind for the season you do need to make sure that they are practical based on the period of R&R required and this will depend on the distances of the races. If in doubt speak to a coach in your club or employ one on a 1-2-1 basis to help you plan your training and racing season. This is particularly important if you are racing long (Middle or Long distance) and don’t want to end up injured, ill or divorced.

Above all, remember that unless you are a pro (in which case I doubt you’ll be reading this) it’s supposed to be fun…because you’re not a pro! Keep in mind why you started racing in the first place and choose the races which, although they are a challenge, are also enjoyable for you.

And yes, I’ve already planned my ‘A’ races for next year but then I do like a good spreadsheet.

Alice Barnes