Some people say to never look back, which I interpret as just plowing forward. While I say, don’t dwell on the past, there’s another saying- “history might not repeat itself, but it definitely rhymes.” What I mean by all this is that, no don’t dwell on a segment that, good or bad, reflect and learn from it. Replicate what worked, and adjust what didn’t work.
There’s another old saying, “I’ve learned more from my failures than my success-” Humphrey Davy. It seems so true, from my experience. When we are asked how our race went, we can always seem to rattle off five different things that didn’t go wrong. We went out too hard, I missed some fueling, I got sick for a week, and my schedule was off for a few weeks. However, whether it’s just us being critical of ourselves, or what, but we always seem to struggle with what went right. A lot of times we just say something like, “It all just came together.”
So, regardless of how everything ended up, I think it is important to take some time and go over everything and really take stock of the segment. Don’t do this on the afternoon of your race, let the emotions settle down over a few days. Give yourself some time to really reflect on a number of different areas. Doing this with an open mind can help take away the things that you know didn’t work and take time off from trying to just repeat the same things with the same lackluster results. On the other hand, if things show up in your notes, then you can take that and bottle it up for next time.
Let’s take a look at some of the things we should evaluate:
- Your training overall. Here are some questions I’d be reflecting on.
- How would you rate it, on a scale of 1 to 10, where would you put your training overall?
- How do you feel like workouts went? Were they ok for the most part? Too hard? Too easy?
- How was your weekly volume compared to other segments?
- How consistent with your training?
- Did you suffer through any extended illness, injury, or other time off?
Not to say that everything had to be the best, or feel great, but really looking to see if you were consistent and handling what you were doing pretty well.
- How was race day fluid/nutrition
- How was your nutrition leading up to the race?
- Did you practice fueling/hydration during your workouts?
- Were you eating enough calories daily?
- Getting at least a few hours of Deep REM sleep a night?
- How is your screen time at night?
- Feel like workouts were too close together?
- Were you taking active measures in enhancing your recovery after workouts?
- Besides rest, rehydration, and refuel, what measures did you take?
- What was your life stress like during the segment?
Go through these five areas and things will start to stick out to you. This is why it is important to keep a good daily log of your training with simple quality notes. It’s not even if you have a coach looking over your training. Even if you are your own coach, this is important information to have. I know it can be easy to skip, but whether you like keeping a handwritten training log or using a platform, most quality ones have spaces for most of this kind of info. Flip back through when doing a self evaluation and it will make it a lot easier to sift through facts and not try to recall what happened on what day.
As a coach, what I am looking for is trends. An off day here, or there, is one thing, but when off days become the norm, that’s when it becomes an issue. For instance, if you wanted to un 5-6 days a week, and because of different circumstances, you averaged 3-4 days a week, that’s a big issue. We need to figure out where that’s coming from. It doesn’t matter if it’s motivation, work, or injury- it will require our attention. The better you do at keeping records during training, the easier the reflection period will be.
What I would do after looking through everything is try to find the right area to focus on for the next segment. As we are working out our goals for the next segment, we can use this data to shape those goals. For instance, if I was missing a bunch of workouts because I was sleeping in due to too much mindless screen time at night, then I can get a lot of bang for my buck by focusing on one thing… the screen time! Why? Because if I can develop better sleep habits, then, I recover better. Two, I am better able to do what I wanted in the morning. Three, my workouts will probably be better. Four, I will be more consistent. So, focusing on one thing improves at least four aspects of my training!
By taking some time (after a few days) and really taking a hard look at our segment, we can look for the trends in where things are going right and where they are going wrong. From there, we can look at what has the biggest impact on our training and focus on that first before worrying about a bunch of other stuff. Instead of repeating mistakes, we can weed out the stuff we can fix and put our progress on a path forward. If not, I see us just making a lot of the same mistakes over, or creating new issues, by not really knowing what we did wrong or right. Take some time and look back so that you can move forward!