How do you prepare for an event? Whether it is a road race, whether you’re going to do a 5K or a 10K, or if you are competing in a CrossFit competition, or maybe you’re going to do an Ironman or any other events.
I’m going to share, from a coaching perspective, the strategy and thinking so that you can apply it to your own event. You have to be reasonable and understand that, depending on where you are in your training, your limitations, your schedule, certain things could work and some things cannot. And we have to be okay with that.
If you are a full-time student and get to train two to four hours a day for your sport, then you will be able to compete at a higher level, than perhaps someone who has a family and a job and is only able to work one hour of training a day.
Also, your fitness base comes into play. When we think about those factors and apply that to our plan, we’re able to put together a training and strategy that will give us maximum success. And that’s really what we’re out for. We’re not out for winning event. We would all love to win every race, absolutely, and we all want to achieve the highest potential and award in our sport.
But that is earned by the best — and that may be you and your team, and so what I like to work with my athletes is identifying and pulling the best performance for them in their chosen event. And that’s super important to have the right mindset aligned to the goals set within a base of strength against your capabilities.
All right, how do you do it? By answering these questions personally — either with ourselves a notebook or with your coach:
How do you put a plan together that reacts and reflects to what you need to achieve your goal?
- Set your goals and then list your limitations and constraints
- Define success — not in the result, but in the daily practice towards that goal (mindset matters supremely)
- Build a training plan working backwards from the big day
- Create work cycles and focus that’ll maximize your performance based on timeframe and biological responsiveness (i.e., you can build anaerobic in short periods of time… you can build strength with if you have 8+ weeks, and you can do quite a bit of skill improvement in these cycles too)
- Allow time for soft tissue, CNS releases, winnable and losing moments
- Expose best and worst situations
- Build strengths in short time periods, improve weaknesses with long periods of time to improve
I’m going to break this down. Please always consider revisiting this, reassessing on a periodic basis and applying the lens that we just described around your goals, limitations, schedule.
When you are trying to accomplish an event, you first need to go backwards from the event. Wherever the event is, if it’s three weeks out or five months out, we want to walk backwards from there. We want to build our training plan from that point.
Work backwards from event date
The reason we do that, we work backwards, is that is the end point in this training. Meaning that we have that much time in that sequence to put together the right activities that will give us the greatest benefit and the highest reward in the time we have.
So working backwards, we then think, if we have enough time, let’s say we’re going to do a five months away event. In that type of structure, we would look at where our strength is, a building of density in our sport, maybe if it’s cycling, we were accumulating lots of volume on our bike. And then in the tail-end, we would work on specific transitions, transfer skills that would really benefit us.
Case study: 3 weeks out, Crossfit competition:
To be as specific for this example, though, I’m going to share for an athlete who is three weeks out from competing at a CrossFit competition. We have been doing some training up to today, and we’re going to build on that training towards our goals.
What this means for us, is that we are not working from zero. We have been putting in training five times a week, we’ve been focused on nutrition, on getting the right sleep, on skills that we’ll transfer, and we are focused on the activities that have really put us in a competitive position.
Now, this structure and approach would work for any athlete doing any competition. But to be pragmatic, we’re going to focus on this timeframe. Working backwards, we have roughly three weeks.
Three days before the event are going to be more pure de-load and rest with the intentions of really letting the body just move a little, but not introduce any fatigue.
The event, Wodapalooza in Miami, is a multi-day competition where our athlete will have to work in those periods, multiple events, so we really have to make sure that we build up rest and glycogen source so that she is able to succeed. (hence the 3 days beforehand rest and prep — physically and mentally)
From three days back to seven days, we are going to be introducing specific workouts that reflect the published workouts of the competition. Today they haven’t released them, but we do expect to have some of the workouts available. And we’re going to reserve time in that window to take advantage of the early release, test some of the pieces, probably not going to do the full workouts, but definitely will test and practice the movement patterns so that we are ready.
For the two weeks prior to the event, we’re going to work on energy systems, meaning that we’re going to introduce two to three days of interval type workouts on different machines, or simple weights with the intention of building skill and capacity for those burst speeds. We’re going to try to raise her flow and her power output and we’re going to try to create a higher redline moment for her in these two weeks.
Anaerobic Threshold work — Now, it is possible over a two to three week window to see benefits if you add at most three interval pieces a week. You can’t do more than that, it’d bring negative effects on your training, but this is short-lived gains that won’t be sustained immediately after our event. But given the time we have, this protocol will deliver great results to accomplish our goals — bringing our athlete to her fullest capability for the event.
Additional skill work
During these two weeks, we’re also going to be working on specific skill pieces and introducing density movements to test out fatigue and build a bit of depth in each movement. What does that mean? That means we’re going to do pressing exercises to the point where we might do a press, a forward press and continually lower out the weights so that we are building density and depth in that position (as a single example)
We would look at doing negatives, so ring muscle up negatives, pull up negatives are going to be part of our protocol over these two weeks, to give us just a little bit more strength, comfort in those tighter positions, being super mindful of the impact that these movements are going to have on an athlete. Starting from today forward, we are going to be looking at, not just normal workouts, but we’re going to be looking at a plan of where at skills do we want to build up, what will make the most sense and where we’re going to invest our time.
Train under fatigue
Finally, we want to make sure that we are giving ourselves chances to work under fatigue, which means that we would really like to see our athlete in this situation maybe working, maybe doing the 1K row and then starting intervals, or do we want to see our athlete here doing other movements that build a bit of fatigue in the system? Get a little bit more used to having a higher heart rate or working for longer and extended periods of time, and then applying that.
When we combine these pieces together, we get a rounded approach for an athlete who’s competing in this period.
Train smart in the schedule life provides
We only have an hour a day to train, so it’s super important when we look at our schedule, what can we introduce? What can we introduce that gives success? When you’re planning out your strategy, cover the bullets, work backwards, try to bias, if you have three weeks or more, try to bias in these three training sessions, the last two weeks towards a high intensity interval and 2–3x a week. We want to mix in cycling movements and getting familiar with different movements patterns in order to achieve our goals.
In the end
The tactics of working backwards, building efficiencies in transition and skills, and bumping up our strongest qualities apply strongly to business and personal goals. Please use them to maximize your performance, no matter the field of play.