Not more than a few weeks into the new year I heard two athletes talking about how they were on day 1 of their Ironman training. When I asked them what race they were training for they said Ironman Tahoe. I thought to myself, “Isn’t that about 9 months away?”

“Training” for an event takes a lot of energy not only physically but emotionally.  Planning your season can help keep that physical and emotional component in check so you can put the right focus where it needs to be and make sacrifices at the right time to help prevent burnout.

One of the biggest reasons athletes may want to sit down with me for consulting is to discuss why they feel lost and unmotivated. Two common drivers for this are they are very early in their seasons and actually lack direction on what to do or they are still six months away from an A race and are already burnt out.

Both scenarios have the same answer: create a spreadsheet that shows the number of weeks to an event and then create the schedule. This helps relieve any anxieties and lack of drive one may be experiencing. The first thing I do when looking at total number of weeks is to see how far away the athlete is from 12-15 weeks from his or her A race. This is where you to say to yourself, “I am training for ‘X’ race” and mark it as such on your calendar. In many cases the date that we select is about 8-20 weeks away from the A race.

For athletes who has loss of direction and lack of motivation this shows them they still have time to get started. The weeks leading up to their “training” is their time to get themselves ready to train by focusing on consistent training and a routine. It is the time to allow work and life to get in the way but strive to do their best to get it done.

For athletes who have already been “training” and already been making way too many sacrifices, this allows them to relax a bit and let them rebuild their well so when the sacrifices and hard focus needs to be applied they are ready to do so. This planning also works well for athletes who have suffered a sideling injury or illness to help them outline their recovery.

Below is a way to look at the season for an A race.

  • Weeks X-16 to go – Get consistent, focus on skills and strength and start seeing mileage increase on certain weeks. Mentally feel like you are getting in shape and stay engaged with fitness. Do not make big sacrifices like missing events that are important to you. Eat well but be conscious of your choices. Sleep well.
  • 15 weeks to go – Training has begun. Consistency should be established. Mentally you are prepared for the next 15 weeks. You may make a sacrifice here and there to get workouts done. Eating becomes more for fuel and recovery, sleeping become more important.
  • 12 weeks to go – You are totally committed to your training. Key sessions are the main focus. You make specific decisions in regards to the foods you eat for training and sleep has just become a priority. You start sacrificing extra activities for sleep and rest.
  • 8-4  weeks to go – You are all in. This is it. These are your money weeks. The last time to move the ball forward. Sacrificing becomes a part of your lifestyle. All of your decisions are based on your race. You have invested time and money and if you had to pick one period to absolutely be about you and your training, it is here.
  • 3 weeks to go – Know that the work is done. Sleep and extra rest is what will help solidify the work that you just did for the last four weeks. You should feel things let up and try and go back to a relaxed feeling like in week 12. Food and sleep are the most important, if you miss workouts here you are not to make them up but move on in the recovery and be okay with it.
  • Two weeks to race day – ENJOY. You are totally invested and you should be feeling like Christmas morning is coming. Spend more time with family and friends, be in a relaxed and positive environment, make your workouts count and get lots of sleep and continue to eat for recovery and fuel. Work may get in the way more than you like during this time; it is okay — be kind to yourself. Get fired up and smile while on that start line.