Review your 2023 season: 14 pieces

One of the best ways to improve next year is to review what worked and what didn't this year. Below and on the podcast, we lay out 14 ways to review your season.

 1. When did you start your season?

Did you do base and weights in the late fall of the previous year? If so, you probably had  better season than if you did not. If you started in January, did you skip weights of push everything back?

2. Did you lift weights?

The best time to build strength is winter, not year round.

3. How big did you build your base?

How long did you spend doing it? For most athletes, more volume is better. Don't only look at the most hours you did in a single week, but how long you were able to do that. If your training load didn't go up much, ask yourself why.

4. Did you do intervals?

Did you skip your intervals phase? Many people do because it's hard. Many athletes just try to ride more and then they go into the season. 

"Don't let fast group rides and Zwift completely substitute for intervals. We are fans of both those things, but you still need to do intervals that are specific to your type of goal events. You won't do multiple sets of VO2 intervals in a group ride or Zwift race. You will do hard efforts, but not the same type of controlled efforts that help you improve even more. Group rides are never quite as hard as people think they are. Heart rate high, normalized power high. but you are never stimulating one particular system to the max because if you did, you would be dropped." — Coach Christian

5. How was your sleep?

What was your 6-month sleep average? Did summer affect your sleep with heat and shorter nights? Your wearable data can inform individual nights and longterm trends.

6. Did you manage your stress?

What was your 6-month HRV trend? It's good to look at longterm trends instead of fixating on one particular night or period. Also longer term trends can help with identifying the benefit of behavior change, whether that is reducing drinking over time or even the benefit of regular exercise on your HRV.

7. What was your Peak Training Load?

Look at your peak CTL, and your CTL on the day of your goal race. What was the difference? 

8. How many hours of training did you average per week? 

Was it more, less or the same as previous years?

"One of the most fundamental ways to improve is to train more. Step one is to determine how much you are riding now. It's not about what the pros are doing. Just stepping up half an hour or an hour a week can make a big difference. Know your numbers if you want to improve next year. Also, knowing how much time you had to train can inform which level training plans to pick going forward. For most masters athletes, 8-12 hours is the sweet spot." — Coach Frank


9. How consistent were you?

Can you identify any big changes and reasons? 

"Another way for easy improvement is during work travel. Athletes who do well make the most of travel by doing things like getting their workout done on a gym bike. They do much better than those who have 3, 4, and 5 days off. How many 45- to 60-minute sessions that you don't feel like were worth it did you get in Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good. We have athletes doing workouts on recumbent gym bikes, and they smash it." — Coach Christian

10. How was your nutrition? 

Note how you felt after different volumes and types of food. We have multiple resources for you with nutrition plans, and there are also apps our there to track your intake.

11. Did you do strength and conditioning? 

Many FasCat athletes do a great job during the winter, when having a gym to go to adds helpful structure. In the spring, it falls off.  Most of our plans have Foundations Monday and Friday, plus yoga for strength and conditioning, injury prevention, flexibility, and core strength.

Our plans also have videos for two band exercises — skate and fire hydrant — from Revo PT.

12. How were your race performances?

First look for places where you failed with training. If that's good, then look at race instances. For road, there is lots of tactical nuance; races where you were physically strong but tactically failed.

With gravel, it's often pacing. Either you started too slowly and missed the group you should have been with, or you started too hot and blew up. Look at how much stoppage time you had. For many newer athletes, we can get them 20, 30, 40min faster without a single gained watt, just by looking at how much time they are off the bike.

Then look at how well you executed on nutrition strategy.

"Experience often comes from making mistakes. You've got to get out there and do the races, and then practice what you want to improve." — Coach Frank

13. How was your peak power?

Look at your threshold, and your peak one- and five-minute power. Tracking FTP over the course of the season, and season to season, is a great first number to look at. See where your best FTP was and why.

Looking at these numbers answers the fundamental question: Did your training work, and when?

14. How happy were you with your races?

There are two criteria for choosing goals: Did you have fun, and do you want to do them again?

How much you enjoyed the races you trained for is a big question. If you're not enjoying them, you shouldn't be doing them. There are plenty of races out there to pick from. Shifting events and goals is a fun way to stay motivated. And that helps structure your next year.

Conversely, sometimes doing a better time at the same event can be a great motivator.



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