Coming to the end of a calendar year can be an ideal time to take stock, look back on what you have achieved, celebrate your successes and plan for next year.
The media is full of stories about more and more people taking up sport and leading a healthier lifestyle. This is particularly evident in the UK at the moment, where the success of the British Olympic team, especially in cycling and triathlon, has meant an increased interest in these sports with events selling out faster than ever before.
Don’t miss out
Last year, Ironman Melbourne sold out in record time, many of the legendary trail runs have decade long waiting lists, sportives have huge waiting lists.
From personal experience, I just missed out on registering for next year’s Vitruvian triathlon, by two days, which now means the earliest I can do this event is 2014..!
Create a wish list of events
Since 2008, I’ve had a list of events/races/courses that I would like to do and have fortunately been able to tick a number of these off every year. The list continues to grow and event priorities change due to my circumstances.
The main point being, start a list and capture every event you’ve ever wanted to do. Research the sports that you like and pick out events that appeal to you, your budget, family, travel, etc.
Chart your events
The next step is to write all the events down by month, day on a page of A4 or next year’s calendar if you have one. Depending on your sport and race season(s) you’ll soon notice popular months.
When I’ve put everything down I then assign an A, B or C category to events based on my desire to do the race, travel, family commitments and a whole host of other personal circumstances. If you have a coach talk to them at this stage and together agree the objectives for these A races and what the training implications are.
Working backwards from my A events (I usually pick two or three per year), I can start eliminating events that will interfere with the necessary training plan. For example, if you want to be competitive at Ironman Wales then you won’t be doing Challenge Henley, which is on the same day, but The Dragon Ride could be an option if worked in to your training plan.
Talk to your partner
Before I start paying for events, travel and accommodation, I always ask those around me that might be impacted by my decision to do a race. This should be your partner but may also include your wider family and friends if you’re planning to stay with them because they are close to the start line.
Get help from your coach
When creating your plan get input from your coach who will be able to give you ideas about training implications and what other events might fit around your A races.
Register as soon as possible
Once I have all my races down on paper, decided which ones I really want to do and got agreements from my support crew then I set about registering.
This may not always work out, as you may find you’re too late, in which case go back and re-assess your priority races, Challenge Henley might now be possible.
Once you’ve registered your A races the next thing to do is book accommodation (or make sure there is availability at the same time as this may decide whether you do a race or not). Being close to the start line will ensure you get as much sleep as possible. Being close to the finish line will mean less faff and a quick getaway if this is important to you.
Find out when registration opens
It’s a good idea to research your desired events years in advance and find out when they open for registration. My calendar is populated with events I’ve registered for or the date registration opens with calendar alerts to make sure I don’t miss opening times, which can be midnight, 4am, 9am, etc. the day after the event finished that year.
In the UK, for cycling, triathlon and ultras my current thinking is to start trying to register for next years’ events on 1st October the year before.
I was a little late this year and paid the price but having now drawn up my plan for 2013 I’m looking forward to the exciting challenges ahead. I just hope it keeps me motivated through the British winter.