• STOP and think – before you plan


    by Thom Phillips

    At this time of year many of you will be thinking about next season, looking for races and training camps that you want to target, planning out intricate training programmes and looking for the edge that will give you a new PB.

    STOP! Before you’ve committed yourself to a 34 hr/wk programme incorporating a 6 week altitude training camp and 7 swim sessions a week, have a look at what you’ve been doing for the last 2 months….

    Before my athletes and I sit down to plan next year’s race calendar, I ask them all to take a few minutes and reflect on this year. I ask them to take a blank piece of paper and write down their thoughts and feelings about the season passed.

    I want them to reflect on their race performances, what went well, what didn’t? If something went wrong, can we identify why it happened, and perhaps formulate a strategy for preventing a re-occurrence? If something went well, then we need to find out how we can replicate that routine again, to try and repeat that great performance.

    Remember, the training processes that we put in place are just as important as the outcomes. I ask all my athletes to tell me which sessions they’ve enjoyed doing, which they haven’t, and why they have or haven’t. Did we hit those short term training goals in the build up to the A-race at exactly the right time? Is there a time of the year where time is tighter? Is that second session on a Friday afternoon really going to get done? Which is why my athletes and I will work through what a realistic weekly schedule is, and from this extrapolate the long term goals of next season.

    Reflecting on your year will help you and your coach identify your strengths and weaknesses and facilitate better planning for the coming winter months. And it doesn’t have to be clinical and cold, feelings contribute an important part to your well being, and your enjoyment of the sport – if something isn’t right, then write it down, let your coach know – more dialogue is great for getting the most out of your coach athlete relationship.

    From a coach’s perspective, it really helps me to get inside the minds of my athletes, to find out what makes them tick and try and adjust the training I write to better suit their circumstances. It also helps me as develop my coaching skills, and leads to better training for you.

    I’ll leave you with the infamous quote by Spanish philosopher George Santayana:

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.