Many of us have recently finished our racing for the year. Whether an October marathon or fall season of shorter races, you’ve probably had ups and downs, good points and bad points.
How do you go over everything that has happened and glean out information that you can use for next year?
I recently discussed how to handle a bad race and how to get useful information out of that race but what about a good race? What about your training? There’s a lot more to think about and, surely, some of it went well while some didn’t.
When you think about it, a lot happens over the course of a year. Multiple ups and downs in training, most likely multiple races, many things happening outside of your running that may have affected it. Piecing together a whole picture of what went right and wrong can seem like a daunting task but it’s a task worth performing in order to think about what worked, what didn’t, and how to apply that information into upcoming plans. So where do you start?
Start at the end: the races
This is what all the training was about, right? Of course, our running is about much more than racing or I hope it is for most of us. However, the races are the big days. So it’s best to start there.
What went right? Why?
What went wrong? Why?
These seem like simple, straightforward questions but take your time. The answers if you think over these questions carefully can be quite complex. Especially the “why” part. But it’s important to drill into these things.
It’s also important to remember that things can go both right and wrong. Even in the worst race, there was probably something that went well. Even in the best race, there was probably something that could have gone better. Don’t overlook these things. That thing that went right in the horrible race is a starting point for how you will build a strategy for your good races next year. That one bad thing that happened in your great race is the key to having even better races next year.
Then consider the training, all of it
Go over your running training. Think about how your fitness was on race day. Did you feel like you were lacking anywhere? Did your training hit a rocky patch? If so, what was the most likely underlying cause?
On the flip side, what went particularly well? What led to that?
Don’t stop at your running training, though. How was your mobility training? How was your strength training? Was there anything in these that went particularly well? Anything that was a miss?
Did you try anything new in your training this year? I hope you did. If so, how did it go? Should you keep it in your plan for next year or ditch it?
Where do you feel you can improve for next year? Needless to say, this is where you should look at introducing something new.
Finally, consider your life outside of running
I’m not saying you should send the family away and quit your job when an important race is coming up because you need to lower your pre-race stress. However, look at the things you can change. Can you clean up your diet? Can you rearrange some of your workload so you do less before a big race and more during recovery or you do more early in training and less at the most strenuous times?
These things can make a difference in our running. Don’t overlook them.
Once you’ve gone over all of these things, from your race execution to your training, right through to your life outside of running, you should start seeing a vision for how you want next year to take shape. You should be able to see what you want to stay the same and, more importantly, what you want to change in order to give yourself the best shot at making next year better than this.