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The new year is a time when people reflect on previous accomplishments and start planning / dreaming about what comes in the next season. A really common goal is to go faster next year, but how do you get faster? Try these four steps:
1) Define it
The first step is to define what “faster” means to you. How much faster and by when? Make sure you have a specific goal so you can measure whether you achieved it or not. And even better, have a range of goals so that it’s not just pass or fail - but instead you can measure the degree to which you have achieved your goal. Try setting gold, silver, and bronze goals so you have a best possible scenario, a likely scenario, and an “acceptable” scenario. Make sure you can measure like for like too. There’s no point setting a goal to go faster if the event you’ll be measuring it on is a very hilly course, or ends up extra windy. Remove as many variables as you can to help make it a true comparison.
2) Review it
Look back at the previous event and training to learn what you can from that. Consider everything that possibly contributed:
● Technique and skills
● Mental strategies
● Nutrition & body composition
● Appropriateness of training
● Commitment and consistency
● Race day execution
Come out of this review with two lists. One list of successful things to replicate next time, and another list of things you need to work on or improve for next time.
3) Plan it
With those two lists you can now start plotting your approach to getting faster. Again, make it specific. There’s no value in just saying “I need to swim better”. Instead identify:
● What aspects of your technique need to be improved? (e.g. body position, open water sighting, consistency of training, etc).
● How can you make training more effective? (e.g. getting lessons, joining a squad, etc)
● How will you know when you are improving, or have hit your target? (tests, strava segments, etc)
● By when do you need to make the improvement?
The last part is critical. You can’t work on everything at once so you’ll need to prioritise and identify those things you need to start on soon, versus those that will wait until later. And you need to know when you’ve done enough to meet your goal!
4) Track it
There’s no point in making a plan at the start of the year then filing it away and not going back to it. Go back to your plan every month and review it. Have you done the things you said you would? Have you made the gains you planned to along the way? Keep tracking, replanning, and making adjustments as needed.
Stop dreaming and get on with it!
You will not get faster unless you take specific action to make it happen. Stop dreaming and start planning. If you’re just not that kind of person, then find someone who can help you do it. Help and feedback from a friend or coach will provide insights that you may not see yourself.
By Gerrard Smith of Mr Smith's Coaching