January 22, 2018

Best Laid Plans

USAT triathlon coachEveryone that knows me knows I’m a planner. While I appreciate spontaneity I am more comfortable with a plan – one that’s flexible.
Serious triathletes are usually great planners. We plan our races. We plan our meals. We plan our workouts. We plan everything. We really have to be good planners because our training takes so much time we need to figure out a way to fit it all in.

For example, my normal training week has me doing 11 workouts per week, and I may be increasing that to 12. With 11 – 12 workouts a week you really need a plan. Here’s how I break it down:

• Annual plan: this is a week-by-week view of my entire calendar year. It shows the date, the minutes of each workout per week and any races I have signed up for.

• Weekly plan: this shows me the structure of my week. Which days I’ll be swimming, cycling, running and strength training as well as the minutes each day.

• Daily plan: this shows me the exact structure of my workout for the day. For example, if I have a treadmill workout planned it breaks it down minute-by-minute in terms of speed and incline.

This is precisely how I help the athletes I coach structure their year as well. Once you’ve got it all laid out you can see how it flows. The other thing I like is that it there is never any question about my workout for the day – it’s all there in black and white.

Here’s the hitch: things don’t always go according to plan. An injury, vacation or another event may take you off your plan. In fact, you can count on something messing up your plan at some point. The question is how to respond to it.

The answer is that it all depends on whether it’s a short-term hiccup or a long-term one. If you simply miss one day don’t worry about it. Just go on to the next day’s workout as if nothing happened.

However, if you’ve missed multiple days, or even weeks, which can be the case with an injury, you’ll need to adjust your plan.

My good pal and strength training partner, Mark Arenal, has had a stubborn injury that doesn’t allow him to run. Okay, so what do you do with that? Simple, he maintains his normal training regimen except when it comes to running. On his scheduled running days he either substitutes an additional swim, cycling or strength session.

Is it ideal? No. But while he’s recovering from his injury he’s lucky enough to be doing other things that will help his core strength and endurance.

So when your plans don’t come together as you want, don’t give up, just make a new plan.


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