It’s that time of year again. The time when you start planning for the new season.
Whether you’ve finished your current season or not, it’s only natural to start thinking about what the new year could bring so in light of that, here are my top 10 tips on how to plan a successful 2024 season.
1. Take some time to consider your goals
Ask yourself lots of questions until you find the goals that matter to you.
Are your goals personal or competitive? For example, do you want to complete a certain race? Do you want to aim for a certain time? Or do you want to be on the podium?
Are your goals related to fitness and health? For instance, do you want to lose body fat and increase heart health?
Are your goals related to a certain life context? Do you have a big birthday coming up or do you need a goal to jumpstart one area in your life?
Are your 2024 goals a stepping stone to a larger goal or a one-off?
Once you’ve prioritised them, it’ll help you align your season with what really matters.
2. Plan your preparation based on your goals
The whole point of setting goals is to achieve them, often while learning something in the process. In order to do that, you need to prepare properly. Oddly, it’s in the preparation where most well-intentioned mistakes are often made.
For example, people ride excessive miles to prepare for a distance they’ve never done before. Distance requires distance, of course, but are those miles real training miles or simply fatigue or injury-inducing miles?
Similarly, many people ride with great inefficiency, losing speed and energy in every mile. You may find that your 2024 preparation involves becoming a more efficient rider as well as a faster rider.
Countless marketing messages will sell you what they think you need in order to achieve your goals. It's a much better idea to assess yourself as objectively as possible or ask your coach to do it for you. Only then can you create a focused training map that will help you navigate your season as effectively as possible.
3. Develop daily habits that support your goals
What are the habits that make your training easier? Little rituals completed every day as part of your routine can lead to big changes.
For example, I need half-an-hour of seemingly mindless faffing before I get on the trainer. It’s easy to judge the ‘mindlessness’ from the outside but I’m preparing my mind for what I’m about to ask my body to do.
That routine makes training efficient for me. For you it may be preparing your clothes the night before a big ride, or it may be coming downstairs and seeing your bike standing there waiting.
4. Give yourself enough time to achieve your goals
Effective time management is a crucial skill in seasonal success. It’s not one, long, hard push and it’s also not a mad rush to the first start line. Performance gains take cumulative cycles of training stimulus and recovery, training stimulus and recovery. There’s always enough time if you use it correctly.
5. Align your nutrition to your performance goals
Nutrition supports training, but more importantly, it supports training adaptation. Always remember that training supplies the stimulus for growth, but nutrition provides the building blocks that the body requires to get stronger and increase capacity. Focusing all your efforts on training without considering your nutrition, is a missed opportunity.
6. Have a rest strategy
Rest is often an overlooked training session. It’s crucial to take sleep seriously. It’s a good idea to take at least one day off a week and plan additional rest following periods of high-stimulus training. And the most important thing is to rest when you plan to rest, because it’s so easy to skip it. The golden rule is if you train hard, rest hard too. The new season will thank you for it, trust me.
7. Focus on your ‘why’
Motivation comes and goes but your purpose is here to stay. Training mindset is often overlooked, but it’s important to stay connected to why you’re doing this.
There are numerous strategies to consider when the big obstacles of ‘what’s the point?’, ‘I just don’t want to’, ‘I don’t care anymore’ or ‘It doesn’t really matter’ rear their heads. This kind of inner dialogue shows up for all of us. It’s how we deal with it that makes the difference.
8. Set yourself some relevant short-term performance goals
Long winters can be hard to overcome, so it’s important to put some performance milestones in place to help maintain momentum. Reward yourself when you achieve them – a new piece of kit always works for me!
9. Use the right sized equipment
I often see folks out on a winter bike that doesn’t fit them properly. I get that you want to save your race bike for better weather, but training on a bike that doesn’t fit could cause you an injury and lead to the biggest season buster of all.
10. Write down your goals and say them aloud
It’s up to you to hold yourself accountable but it helps to be held accountable by people who care about you achieving your goals.
Writing down your goals and saying them aloud can really help keep your motivation levels up. Equally, sharing them with others can be a key motivator.
None of this has to be arduous. It's the perfect time of year to sit back for a few weeks, while you keep your legs moving, and have a good look at the landscape.
It's important to note that not all seasons have to have stretch goals. Sometimes it’s smarter to take a step back. We live in a culture that's quick to tell you what to strive for, which goals have merit and which ones don’t.
You're the athlete. Ultimately no one knows you better than you do. It's your season.
So, what do you want to achieve?
If you want a coach who specialises in endurance, check out my webpage
If you want to race on an endurance team in 2024, check out our membership over at BarrUltra