Friday, June 24, 2011

Results, Goals and the Real World.

With racing season under way many folks are now starting to look at results and assessing their performance. This can be a tricky process. Whether it's simply a training race or a more important event, there are many things to take into account. And some things that should simply be left out on the course.
With times, rank in each event, your over all placing, wattage, run pace, and more, how does one analyze their results and performance correctly?

The hard data:
One of the best ways is to measure you and just you. Forget about everyone else what did you do? In the end you can only do what you can do. Sounds silly but many forget this simple fact. Measuring your wattage and running pace are very definitive ways of measuring your performance. "last yr. i did 250 watts at the Boulder sprint, this year 275!" that is progress. Your running pace is also something to look at. I would recommend going by your GPS watch however. Running courses can be off more than you think. Even at the most recent WTC, 5430 sprint tri the run course was short. This can skew times quite a bit. Swim times, be careful here as well. I have never heard of an open water swim course that was perfect. wind, choppy water, etc. can all led to very different swim times. This is why we never, NEVER, ever use time to measure our performance on the bike. MPH mean nothing. A breath of wind, new pavement, and 100 other things will affect your average speed. you must use wattage!
Even with all the correct data it is some times used wrong. I have heard athletes be angry with there run time because "it was slow." Yet they have no idea what they should be running (what they can run) coming off the bike. "well in 2001 I ran a 5k with some friends and I did 19 minutes flat! Today i'm better shape and I raced 19:50. i sucked!"
Heard this before? where do we start! First of all its not 2001. You just did a sprint triathlon not a stand alone 5k, if you PR on the run of a triathlon your not swimming or riding hard enough, or, you are much faster than you were before.
The courses could have been short, long. wind, surface, motivation, or maybe you just had a good/bad day.
find out what is a reasonable goal for YOU. not some obligatory time.

Because of issues like the ones above comparing results can be a great way to measure your performance. "but Ek I don't' race the people that win my AG, I race for my own goals, to be as fast as I can be i'm not on that level." That's great! This method is still very usable for someone in that mind set, stay with me for a bit.
This year an athlete I am working with has been working a lot on his run. However, his bike and swim have been improving as well. In the first few races this year his bike wattage has been exactly the same as last year. Effort level also the same yet his bike rank (and his over all placings) are higher. If this happened once I would think nothing of it but so far (4 races) all with the same scenario. he is going faster. A new bike and better position is proving to be gaining him more time than we thought. we'll take it!
Another client of ours just this last weekend said, "my run was awful, a horrible placing for me." really? are you sure? they placed inside the top 8 in their AG and last yr. they were 18th. also their run pace was faster and at the fast end of where I like to see athletes run in a sprint tri... so.... what was bad? it hurt? it's a race it's not supposed to be easy!

Also if your goals are competitive ones than this is realy what your aiming for right? Top 50%, Top 5% etc. At the end of the day a race is just who was best on that day, at that moment. You can work towards having a faster run, better power on the bike but,
"on race day you must race with what you have, not what you want to have"

Again I would urge caution here as well. things don't always match up 100%.
At the last race I did my swim placing was worse than last yr. but when you compare my time with the fastest swim time I lost less time than last year. ie. I was closer to the leader. My "time" (last thing we care about) was faster and the water rougher. Which is strange because a rough, slower swim would suggest bigger time gaps?? hummm...

This is why we prefer to use well executed races and more than one when ever possible. the more reference points you have the better.

In the end you need to ask your self, what are your goals? what are they specifically for this race? And what are your bigger goals for the season or year?
Your goals for this training race should be:
1. a stair steeper to build on towards the bigger goal
2. everyone should have the goal to execute the race to the best of there ability on that day! maybe you have a goal to focus on the bike portion or the run portion, maybe its simply to finish your first triathlon strong. what ever it is race execution is KEY!
~see: your first triathlon. even if it's your 101 race!!
~and the race execution seminar HERE

Most importantly realize that this event you have just done is one thing. One day, one race. you might have just had a bad day, or for that matter a good one. Maybe you got lucky? But when you have your threshold set for all 3 sports, they are better than last year, your data says you executed the race well and within the proper parameters and you're doing better against the competition at more than one event,
you are looking at the products of progress.

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