During my off time each year, I spend some time reviewing how I will change the following basic areas in order to see improvement the following year:
Body Composition– Make changes to my diet to better my body composition. No need for extra weight from fat….this improves running potential at about 0.62% per pound lost and also power to weight ratio on the bike (assuming you diet correctly and hold power output constant). Just don’t go too low on fat!
Training Protocol – I look at the previous year to see what worked and what didn’t and then make changes to next year’s plan based on what I see. Ideally, I complete this on a Macro (month over month periodization) and Micro (workout by workout) level and only works if you keep detailed records on training volume and intensity but illustrates the importance of a training log.
Equipment – I look at my equipment and try to find areas where improvements can be made such as aerodynamics and/or weight. Bike fit also fits into this category.
Technique– I look at areas where technique can be improved in order to increase efficiency. Then, I do drills to improve these areas. Typical drills include running mechanics drills, swim drills, and cycling drills. Improvements here have you go faster at the same effort…this is good.
The interesting thing here is that 3 out of 4 of these translate to “free speed” and not fitness improvements. However, most people don’t emphasize those 3 enough. With the effort they put into fitness, the others are a no-brainer. Either way, doing something different this coming season in order to improve each of those 4 areas will practically guarantee progress next year. Doing the same old thing results in the same old results. I see a lot of the folks I race with make no changes and make no progress year after year.