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How to write your year plan in 5 steps

A detailed and thought-through year plan can have a big impact on your success through the season. It’s important to set aside some time to plan and organise your season, because this allows you to get the best out of your training.

The following guide is designed to bring structure in your thought process. If you are coached, you will want to work on step one and two on your own, and then discuss the next steps with your coach. If you are self-trained you will need to go through all these steps by yourself.

Five steps to build your season

1. Write down your expectations

A training season is not only about reaching goals, but also about setting clear expectations. This thought process will be your foundation to creating logic in your season’s construction, and will help you select your goals and races in step two.

A good approach is to keep it very simple and concrete. Here is an example:

- Have fun while running/training

- Each session needs to have a purpose

- Measure improvement regularly

- Race short distance (local) events all year long and have 2-3 longer events between August-November (50-100 km)

2. Plan your goals/races

In step one, you identified your expectations. In step two, your aim is to select events/goals that will fulfill these expectations. A good approach is to first select your main events/goals and then choose minor events/goals that contribute to the main ones. It is important that you make choices, because you can’t do everything! Keep in mind that doing too many events will limit your ability to train properly, however not choosing enough events/goals can make your training feel monotonous.

Here is an example of a race/goal plan:

- Race most of the Outer Limits series events (6 events spread over the year)

- Join Parkrun events monthly through summer as a time trial to assess speed gains

- UTA 22 km in May

- Townsville running festival in August, Marathon distance

- Maybe a 50 or 100 km in October

3. Understand the demands of your goals

This part is unique to each runner and needs to be written as objectively as possible. It is easy to let your “fears” guide you! Often trail runners focus on the hilly sections of events and forget the long flat miles, whereas marathon runners focus on building endurance and neglect their run quality or speed work. Thus, critically analyse your events!

In this step you may want to split your season into parts. If we continue with the above example, shorter distance races are planned early in 2022 which then transitions to longer events later in the year. Thus, during the first half of the season, the goals require speed (flat speed, but also uphills and downhills) and endurance (1hr events are aerobic efforts). Then, the second half of the year is focused on longer events that demand more endurance, muscle resistance and efficiency.

4. List the skills you need and when to develop them

Now it is time to compare your skills to the goals you identified in step two and set priorities (again, be objective!). By doing this, you can build a season that will broaden your skillset but also strengthen the skills you already acquired. This means that you will need to work hard on skills that you lack, while setting aside some time to maintain your qualities. Every runner is different, so don’t listen to everyone’s advice but follow your own plan!

To continue with the previous example, this means that through the first half of the year:

We will prioritise:

- Running efficiency on flat sections

- Flat running speed

- Speed on low grade uphills

We will maintain:

- Downhill speed

- Steep climbs

Through the second half of the year:

We will prioritise:

- Long endurance

- Running efficiency on flat sections

- Muscular resistance

We will maintain:

- Running speed

- Speed on low grade uphills

5. Plan your training phases

Once you have followed the previous four steps, your season goals and training targets will be crystal-clear and very detailed. In this last step you now want to set time frames for every part of your training, this includes your base training, peaking, tapering, racing and recovery periods. This step demands some training knowledge and is very specific to each runner.

To finish with the example, the first part of 2022 could be built as follows:

Base training: November 2021 to February 2022

Build training: March-mid April 2022

Peak: mid-April to end of April 2022

Taper: Until UTA22

So, now it is your turn! Time for you to think and get your year plan ready so that you can start your next season the right way and get the most out of your training!


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