Hindsight is 20/20
My season unfortunately came to an abrupt end on on Monday when I tore several ligaments in my left hand, so I am left with no choice but to end my season and begin focusing on the next. While not ideal, it’s also not the end of the world either. This end allows me to take a long hard look and what went wrong/right and figure out what I need to do to make this next season even better. As an added bonus, being forced to take my season break means I’ll be able to started training earlier, which means I will be ready for some extra early season racing!
In order to properly analyze a season, you need to examine it three ways: Goal Attainment, Power Numbers and Anecdotal Experience:
This is probably the most crucial of all of the analysis that I can do because 1) it isn’t subjective and 2) in the end, results are what matter. In my case (and something all athletes should do) I made a list of goals just before the start of the season, things that were concrete, with both an objective and a timeline, and couldn’t be misinterpreted. My goals for the season:
Upgrade to Category 2
Win a race
Complete the entire season without a DNF (Did Not Finish), only exceptions are “Acts of God”
Podium at a state championship event
Increase FTP to 275 watts (4.2 watts/kilo) by April 1st, 2011
Increase FTP to 285 watts (4.4 watts/kilo) by November 1st, 2011
So, how did I do? Not so well. Of the high priority goals, I only scored one, I podium’d at the State Criterium Championship (this was also the highlight of my season). On the others, I am still a Cat 3, although I have 20 of 25 upgrade points, and I didn’t manage to score a win; I did, however, manage several podiums this season, with multiple second place finishes. I also DNF’d several races, but, as it turns out, this goal wasn’t particularly practical as there are a lot of reasons to pull from a race aside from an “Act of God”.
On the low priority side, I kicked the crap out of previous power numbers. As of right now, my FTP is sitting around 310 watts, which is quite a shot from the 285 that I thought was going to be a stretch goal.
This is one place I can be truly be proud of my progress, although it didn’t happen exactly where I would have wanted it. Power in every major time category went up (read: I’m a lot faster now than a year ago). In some case, the gains were substantial. Unfortunately, due to early season guidance from my *former* coach, I didn’t see these gains until very late in the season (more on this below), which made the first 4 months of racing beyond hard on my confidence. Ideally, I should have seen my best power numbers in April (Tour of the Gila) and August (end of season). I only saw serious gains in July/August.
A major plus to add to this category, is that I now will begin training for my next season at a much higher level than I previously though, which will help me attain my racing goals much easier. I’ve also learned a lot about how I best respond to training and will apply the lessons throughout my entire 2012 season.
To be completely honest,despite learning A TON about racing and training, the season as a whole was mediocre. The first half was complete and total crap, while the second was pretty stellar. Some of this was bad luck and timing, but I believe that much of it was due to poor coaching. In the early season, I followed my coaches training to a ‘T’, but, when my big goal of the season came around (Tour of the Gila), I was nothing more than pack fodder. I could see this coming as well. The racing before this event was very sub-par. I was either getting dropped or finishing in the back of the pack.
So, after the Gila, I fired my coach and, in June, started working a little bit with Hunter Allen (I met him at my previous job: TrainingPeaks.com). Almost immediately I began to see results. My numbers were coming up and I was starting to become a factor at the end of a race and, in July, I started to rack up podium spot both in and out of Colorado (mostly in field sprints).
So, what does all of this tell me? I’m in a great position to attain some serious goals next season. I may have fallen short in the results department, but I excelled when it came to getting fast (when using proper training techniques)! With major changes to 2012, I know that I can win races. In a week or so, I will have my complete set of race goals for 2012, which I’ll do a post about. Additionally, I’ll write a little about how to properly create goals (whether in cycling or life).