Schedule for Success – Planning for a successful 2018

The age-old saying, ‘failing to plan, is planning to fail’ has never been truer than when it comes to goal setting, whether it be in triathlon, business or just about anything in life. I have always been a firm believer in both goal setting followed by developing a set plan, which allows me to work out the best possible course of action to achieve what I set my mind on accomplishing. The difference this makes is something that is often massively underestimated. However, if you are serious about setting a strong course of action that is directly in line with helping you to reach your goals, this should be the first step.

The triathlon event calendar has grown significantly in the last decade; there are so many different distances and opportunities that it is almost possible to race year round. Even as a professional athlete it is possible for me to race nearly every weekend if I desired (probably not the smartest option, however). One of the more challenging issues that arises from this is how best to pick your racing schedule for the coming year. With so many options out there, one of the hardest decisions that triathletes face is narrowing down the list to best suit their goals for the coming season and not simply trying to race as much as they can.

I strongly believe that it is important for triathletes to categorise their chosen races into three levels of prioritisation.

‘A’ Races
These are one to two major events that may include World Championships, Regional Championships or simply a race like an Ironman if this is something that you have never done before and are working towards achieving this year as your big goal. Typically triathletes can only properly build and taper for one to two big events per year, so it is essential to identify and work towards these key races to give you the best chance of success.

‘B’ Races
Races that you class as ‘B Races’ should be seen as a key stepping stone in helping you reach your larger goals, such as key events, which qualify you for your ‘A Race(s)’. These might include an Ironman where you want to achieve a big result to qualify for the Ironman World Championships for example. This could also be an important event where you wish to have a great race and is no less important than an ‘A Race’. However, it is important to understand the role a ‘B Race’ plays in helping you towards achieving your big ‘A Race’ goals. Personally speaking, most of the Ironman 70.3 events that I compete in as a professional athlete are classed as my ‘B’ races with a World Championship level Ironman 70.3 being my ‘A’ race for the season.

‘C’ Races
These races should be seen as events that you shouldn’t need to taper off for and form part of a key training block. In my own experiences racing as a professional triathlete and having my ‘A’ and ‘B’ races being held over the Ironman 70.3 distance, I really like to end a big training block with a hard Sprint or Olympic Distance triathlon. Some of my very best ‘A’ and ‘B’ races have come from scheduling a ‘C Race’ in the weeks leading up, as my last hard ‘workout’ before tapering off.

These races are a great way to enjoy a hard race simulation workout along with trying new nutrition and hydration strategies, equipment and even pacing strategies that you wish to implement for your upcoming major ‘A’ and ‘B’ races. There is no magical number as to how many events you do over the course of the year. However, it is important to have a purpose for your racing rather
than simply picking races without having a firm plan of action for how you will approach every one of them. It’s also important to use the majority of the events you enter as a stepping stone towards your target race(s).

Having this race schedule, with a prioritised list of events, is the first step in being able to properly plan your big training blocks, recovery periods and taper so that you are preparing yourself to have the best possible chance of success when it counts, at your goal race(s). I can guarantee that the vast majority of the world’s top-performing professional triathletes have a precise and well-defined plan to help them reach their goals so there is no reason why you can not implement the same thought process and planning when it comes to your racing schedule.


Sam Betten

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