So the tri season is now over. The evenings are getting darker and as we move into the holiday season, thoughts turn to new goals and plans for next year.

But before you get on to the fun bit of goal setting, it is worth taking some time to reflect on the past race season to see what it can tell us about how you improve. This is something a lot of athletes neglect and as a result tend to end up repeating the same mistakes or not pushing onto the next level they could achieve.

Maybe you reaching dizzying new heights last season , or maybe nothing worked out the way you planned, but examining how it played out can  be a real game changer. Analysing the past season can provide planning information that will help you avoid the pitfalls that might have affected you this year as well as build on your strengths for better performances next year.

The areas to critically evaluate include:

By simply being honest and systematic in your review, you should at the end of the exercise, have a much clearer picture of where you should focus your limited energy and resources. Then you need to drill down to why some things worked, and others did not, to understand how best to plan for next year. This approach (if done correctly) should help you identify and map changes you need to implement to minimize the risk of repeating the same limiter in the next season. For example, a good end of season review might look like this:

What I did well

Goal setting and race selection:  I stuck to the agreed race schedule and goals (achieved 100% of A goals and 50% of B goals)

Base training execution: I successfully hit 90% of sessions in the plan

What I did poorly and possible reasons why?

Nutrition: I missed a lot of my weight goals. I didn’t track my intake and I ate too many takeaways and ready meals mid-week due to time pressures and lack of planning after late training sessions.

Mindset: I found myself mentally quitting during hard sessions as persuaded myself it was okay, I found this repeated in some races

Rest and recovery: I constantly felt tired in Build and ended up injured in May. I didn’t track my sleep and felt I was over-committed both with work and socially.

What I need to change in 2019

Nutrition:  I need to focus on nutrition particularly in training. I need to track calories better, and use better planning (e.g. batch cook more healthy meals) to ensure I am fuelling my body appropriately.

Mindset: I need to research better ways to remain focused during hard sessions/races e.g. visualisation? View hard sessions as learning ground for hard races in the calendar?

Rest and recovery: Need to track sleep and rest periods and plan for some extra naps and rest where possible. I need to ensure I adhere to recovery cycles and rest days, book sports massage on rest days

We are all looking for that elusive PB, improved placing, etc, and we can be too quick to dive in with both feet into the next season “hoping” that everything will fall into place. Surely, a better approach is, to take stock of what we know happened and base the approach for 2019 on what we know we should improve. Remember when reviewing last year’s performance, it’s important to be both really honest with yourself and also to look at your performances without judgement. You can’t change what has happened but you can learn from your past behaviour to improve the way you do things.