For many amateur cyclists the shorter days and damper weather of September mark the start of the off-season. But before you throw your bike in the garage and start indulging in treats you’ve been avoiding over summer, you need to do one important thing - review your season.
It might take time and you’ll need to paw through a bit of data, but a performance review can help you identify strengths and weaknesses, put plans in place to help you overcome challenges and make 2017 your best season yet.
How to review your season
Step 1: Review your season against the goals you set at the start of the year
As a good amateur cyclist you will (or should!) have set yourself some goals at the start of the year, or before your season got underway. The start of the off-season is the perfect time to review your goals and see where you’ve over or underachieved.
Step 2: Identify your strengths
Think about the highlights of your season. When did you feel strongest, fastest or push past your limits? Once you’ve identified one or two highlights, think about all the elements that contributed to your achievement. Did you follow a structured training plan? Did you add an extra indoor training session? Did you work on your technique? Mark down all the things that contributed to your success.
Step 3: Identify your weaknesses
Now think about the times when your season didn’t go to plan. It’s all too easy when reflecting on challenges to focus on external circumstances like weather, traffic or other competitors, but it’s important to be honest with yourself here. Is there anything you could have done differently to improve your performance despite these external influences? Could you be more prepared? Could you change your race tactics and strategies so you’re better able to respond to competitors? Make a note of all the elements you could improve.
Step 4: Review your data
If you’ve been measuring your data via a power meter, heart rate monitor or indoor trainer like the Wattbike, now is the perfect time to review. You’ll want to correlate your data to the strengths and weaknesses you’ve just noted. Do you notice any patterns? If you’re not sure what to look for, take a look at our examples below:
- You remember flying up an epic hill climb ahead of all your mates this summer, so you look back at your data to find you incorporated a series of sessions which improved your power and enhanced your overall power to weight ratio. If you’re focusing on climbs next season, think about continuing these power to weight sessions.
- Your data shows you crammed in a number of intense sessions the week before a big race and on the day you felt sluggish and fatigued. Next season, you might look to incorporate some tapering into your training.
Step 5: Think outside the box
Now it’s time to look into those anomalies! Times when you trained by the book and your data suggests that everything should have gone perfectly, but in reality, you bombed. Here, it’s useful to step outside of the box.
Look at the race day itself. Was it unusually hot or cold? Did the event organiser provide a different nutrition brand to the one you were used to? Even seemingly small things like nutrition and hydration can hamper your performance on race day.
If you’re still stuck for an explanation, try looking completely outside the box. Do any of your performances correlate to events in the rest of your life? This can be anything from a big deadline at work, family emergencies, illness or even lack of sleep.
Step 6: Enjoy yourself!
Once you’ve noted down all your strengths, weaknesses and possible reasons for each of them, write down one thing you could do to improve in each area. Once you've done this, it’s time to take a step back and give yourself a well earned break. Over the coming weeks we’ll be offering you some advice on making the most of the off-season, so stay tuned and subscribe to our monthly newsletter below to ensure you don’t miss out on valuable training advice!