What was your key goal?
Did you have any stepping-stone (lower priority) goals or races?
Did you skip any planned stage of your preparation or did you manage to stay consistent throughout?
All those questions have to be answered to determine if you are on the right track and ready to take on new tasks or goals.
It is a mistake to consider only your race results in evaluating your improvements this season. If you are looking at your finish times alone, you may miss out on very important improvements you achieved as an athlete as the clock does not allow you to evaluate the complete picture of your achievements in training and performance.
For example, an athlete who couldn’t consistently stick to their training plan last year due to a lack of discipline but who was able to do so this year is improving—regardless of what the results are showing. That athlete is building a routine and habits that will bring him results in the medium and long term, as well as a steadier and healthier lifestyle.
Another example is diet. A leaner and healthier body as a result of improved nutrition is always a positive achievement.
In both cases, looking at the improvements in performance alone will not reflect the improvements the athlete has managed to achieve. Speed is not everything.
If you are healthier, with better sleeping habits, and consistently following a more efficient routine that allows you to manage more things at the same time (work, family and fitness), you shouldn’t short-change yourself by only considering the minutes you have shaved off your time in each discipline.
Another important aspect that I want my athletes to consider is the concept of increasing self-awareness in their training. It is crucial for me, as their coach, to know whether athletes are training near their limits or whether they may be able to push themselves harder in their workouts.
I use a few key sessions year around to help my athletes determine their limits—the repetition and routine is a great way to help my athletes understand themselves.
Lifestyle is also an important factor in determining a season’s success. How is an athlete managing their daily hours between professional and family commitments, and training sessions.
An athlete may have felt stressed out a year ago because they always seemed to lack time, a very big issue. If the same athlete this year feels there is a much better balance, even though the hours of training are the same, then that is definitely a big improvement.
In short, all the reasons mentioned above explain why it is important, at the end of the year, to evaluate more than just your swim/bike/run splits, training performance or race results. Triathlon training goes beyond that. Most athletes love the sport for a balance of performance and lifestyle and you should never forget to evaluate your improvements in both aspects!