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As the winter sun begins to set earlier than ever and the end of another season is around the corner, coaches and athletes begin to think about the past year and plan for the next. However, there is a big change in 2017, and that is progress in TrainingPeaks' annual training plan. Traditionally, there's a conversation about size, key stages, and increased intensity right up to the competition stage and climax for our major races. However, it has revolutionized planning this year.

This is a huge improvement, especially with the automatic periodic splitting option in the Annual Training Plan (ATP), giving athletes the opportunity to improve their planning for the upcoming season. Changes begin to ensure that planning during the season is more specific to the challenges of the event(s) in mind. Going forward, the ability to customize the season plan for an athlete individually and tailor the program specifically to the individual and the sport will make planning versatility even more rewarding.
With these new changes in mind, now is the time to plan your next season. Use these five steps to get started:

1. Select your season

“Fail to plan, plans to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin | ATP is the backbone of the upcoming season. It sets the direction and general blueprint for how things will progress at the macro level (training phase). Everyone is aware of the fact that miso (training block) or minute ("week" training) goals need to be adjusted frequently throughout the season. However, the plan for the season always remains more consistent.
At the end of the day, neither the date of the World Championship event, nor the qualifiers or the first triathlon the athlete has participated in will be changed. All these dates will be determined in due course. The great thing about training toward a Desired Fitness Value (CTL) or TSS per week is that there's plenty of room for dexterity without putting too much pressure on someone. There is more flexibility in the plan. This, combined with an understanding of the training phase, and tracking of the right metrics, makes it easy to stay on top of the correct training dose and constantly adapt how to achieve a plan without "running" down the spine!

2. Set your fitness goals

“The main thing is to keep the main thing being the main thing.” - Stephen Covey | Goal setting is the crucial part of any athletic coach relationship. Jim Vance sets different goals based on fitness (CTL) and functional threshold (FTP) values. As the season progresses and training begins, these values ​​may be changed or refined.
However, the actual goal remains constant. Using the fitness value (CTL) for ATP or TSS values ​​for training takes the focus in part away from “hours of work” or “intensity” which are too vague but help keep the athlete and coach focused on a measurable goal. It also makes the coach more accountable. Keep them on their toes, to earn their profit!

3. Check out the last season

“Study the past if you are to determine the future.” - Confucius | It is always important to go back to the previous season and ask each athlete questions about what went well and what could be improved. Examples include:
Can specific values ​​of strength, speed or swimming be identified that could be improved to help achieve the goal?
What about that point in the season when injury, illness or fatigue hampers, what values ​​of steep training loads or incline rates shouldn't be exceeded?
What Training Stress Balance (TSB) worked best, what was the ideal TSB value for racing in a Priority A race.
How do the above points change for different sports?
What are the sport-specific, race-specific metrics to watch for next season?
All of these points (and a host of others surrounding age, gender, time in sports, life, work, balance, etc.) can affect ATP. With the methods now available to generate ATP, it can be allowed, modified, exploited, or avoided depending on what needs to be achieved. Although this is far from the end of the season, it is now reasonable to set goals and objectives based on historical data and expected training responses.

4. Calculate your training carefully

“It's funny, the more you practice, the luckier you get.” - Arnold Palmer | Depending on your fitness targeting (CTL), the TSS can be calculated for each week (or TrainingPeaks can do this automatically). This is important because we can now ensure that the athlete is training to the training pressures required for the race and then the intensity of the race. For example, someone racing an Iron Man 70.3, might need to consider a training bike TSS of around 150. Their goal might be an Intensity Factor® (IF®) around 0.75. In riding-like training about 2:40 hours.

5. Pay attention to details

"When you assume, you make A** out of U and Me!" - Oscar Wilde | As is often said, it is important to note that TSS is never equal between sports. Having a different fitness goal (CTL) and gradient rate for different sports helps to negate this.
Also, continuous and up-to-date monitoring of key metrics such as: sFTP, threshold frequency, and other inputs into the Performance Management Scheme (PMC) that affect plan credibility is critical to ensuring ongoing training. The right direction and what is being planned are accurate. However, life can throw a lemon. No matter how much tuning and planning goes into it, real life gets in the way; “Things happen. The better you understand all these complex parts of planning, the easier it will be to adapt a plan and tackle the punch rather than lying on the floor wondering what just happened.

All of these developments can be incredibly powerful and can revolutionize the way someone plans for a season, and therefore how someone trains and performs during the season. However, without monitoring, adapting and improving the plan, the plan is outdated. As coaches and athletes who have had the opportunity to advance the way we work, we must now ramp up and use these changes to their fullest potential as we all continue to innovate training practices.

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