Do you have a plan?

"Today, I had to taxi the kids around after school, then it was football coaching, meaning I didn't get to do the turbo session, so could I move it to tomorrow? But I have lots of time this weekend, so i am keen to do a long ride and a long run, what do you think?"

Does the above sound familiar? 

Do you hear your own voice saying this, or a friends?

I heard a similar version from one of my athletes. 

My response

"Let's look at the bigger picture, let's return to the annual plan"

Big picture plan_calendar-01.jpg


With each athlete, I sit down and create an annual plan, based around their races, goals for the year, current strengths, weakness, skills to develop, lifestyle, family, work etc

As a skeleton it looks like this:

annual plan spreadsheet-01.jpg


"How do your thoughts for this week, fit with the bigger plan?"

 I asked the athlete.

By taking a moment, to move from the immediate, daily focus, into the bigger picture, it is clearer to make decisions.

Does a longer ride of 4 hours and a longer run of 90 minutes, fit into a week, designed to be 7 hours in total for the 7 days when 4 days of planned training have already been ticked off?

In my mind, designing training programmes is just one element of coaching. In reality it is the straight forward element. 

For myself, the important element of coaching, is asking questions, questions that allow athletes to move forwards and improve. 

I use a lot of Tal Ben Shahar's ideas as the basis of goal setting, in triathlon and in life. These questions, create a basis of an annual plan.

Tal Ben Shahar has a circular diagram, 4 circles inside each other with the following from the outside working in.

Can do

Want to do

Really Want to do

Really really want to do

It is a tool when thinking about goals, can you already do it? Do you really want to do it? Do you really really want to it it? and why?

Some of the questions I ask the athletes I work with include:

- What is the ultimate dream. In terms of triathlon? 

 and then why to your above answer?

- View the dream, at the top of a ladder, now think about each rung of the ladder as a step towards the dream. How long is the ladder in your mind

- Can you see the rungs of the ladder clearly? They could be races, they could be areas of swim, bike, run, nutrition, sleep, lifestyle,. equipment, strength and conditioning, mental development. What do the rungs of the ladder look like?

-What rungs of the ladder do you want to climb this season? Next season? Where do you want to be on the ladder in 5 years time?

-How does having me as as coach help you climb the ladder?

What do you need from a coach to climb the rungs?

In weekly conversations we review the weeks training and plan together the following weeks training, in terms of what fits into their lifestyle, what they feel is a strength/weakness, what area they want to work on, etc. During these conversation, we often look back on the answers to the above qs, and discuss the steps on the ladder and if we feel we are moving up or down the ladder, or even sideways. The answers to the questions form the annual training plan. The plan evolves constantly; races get added or taken out, family holidays, work commitments come and go. A key for me is that we constantly keep the annual plan in mind.

Keeping the bigger picture in mind, makes the daily and weekly decision easier.

Article by Suzie Richards, OxygenAddict Coach. Suzie has 2 athlete places left for the 2018 season. If you are interested in reaching your goals this season and would like to work with a coach, contact Suzie by email on