Gap analysis – holding up a mirror

Lets start this blog by reiterating that I am (and always have been) a very average ordinary age group athlete, just like you I have big dreams and this blog is a tool to help me achieve my dreams and goals.  So I have recovered from ironman Australia, its been a few weeks and while I am feeling pretty good and resuming full training is on the cards I have chosen to take a lighter approach through these colder months!  Having trained solid for nearly two years continuous without any significant break, I have decided to just turn the legs over on the bike, light running every day and I might even hit the pool occasionally too!  But the focus is on technique and recovery rather than any real tempo or goal driven sessions.  I am trying to use this time to plan my goals for next season and prepare a plan that helps me continue my improvement.

I have been reading heaps about ‘gap analysis’ which I have applied in a business environment numerous times in a whole range of settings, but never on myself or in the sporting arena.  The process obviously involves looking at my current performances over the season or lifetime and identifying my current strengths and weaknesses.  Then preparing and adjusting my plan to enhance the weakness and maintain the strengths.

So where to start?  Lets reflect on my races so far in 2016:

2016 Race results

I have continued steady improvement over any distance triathlon I compete in over the past three years.  I believe I have a solid swim & solid bike, however very clearly my running is where I can continue my improvement.  Now to objectively analyse these results against my ultimate goal of qualifying for Kona.

The top 10 in my age group at Cairns & Port Macquarie splits ranged as follows:

Age Group comparison

Even then a top 10 finish doesn’t guarantee me a qualification spot to go to Kona.  But it’s about setting a goal, having a target and trying to achieve this on my limited & very precious time!

So my swim times are middle of the pack in the top 10 analysis, clearly a strength of mine!  I bike about 10 minutes slower the top 10, definitely needs some work.  Heres the kicker, I run 30 minutes slower than the top 10, this is my weakness, my achilles heal (pun very intended) and where I need improvement.

There is no quantitative measure I can compare my nutrition & hydration strategy to.  This is obviously something very personal and everyone’s strategy is tailored to themself.  What I can look at is the calorie output, sweat rate and sodium content of my sweat.  All numbers that can be obtained through some very simple cost-effective testing.  However from an objective point of view, I honestly belive that my current practices are on point and pretty accurate for me.  Testing later this year may be on the cards which will help confirm my beliefs and thoughts, or gut feel (loving the puns in this blog)!

I have in the past, and still occasionally, use ‘My Fitness Pal’ app as a rudimentary analysis of my calorie intake vs output during heavy training days / weeks.  Which gives me a great indication that my diet also needs some basic improvements.  So a consultation with a sports dietitian may also be a tool I add to my strategy this year to help me gain a better understanding of my diet.

So I believe over the past 5 years I have built a solid base, my fitness levels are good, my approach to racing and triathlon has become a lifestyle choice!  But is a house complete once its foundation is laid?  Of course not!  So my yearly plan is having a review, my phases and goals are being reviewed.  Now that I have a clearer picture of where my improvement is going to come from, I need to make some changes!  If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what youve always got!

So as 2016 continues and the only race I have committed to at this stage is Noosa (olympic distance), the planning and training for my next ironman will continue, even though I don’t know where or when my next ironman will be.  Here is my basic keys to self assessment:

  1. Know your goals, write them down, make them visual.
  2. Assess where you are at, using data (if you have it).
  3. Make changes, moving toward your goals.
  4. Repeat.

I hope that you’ll continue to follow & join me during my journey into the amazing and wonderful world of endurance triathlon racing.

Till next time build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!

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