During the off season or periodically throughout your training, it’s good to look at your fitness and your performances over time. Tracking your performance over time can help inform your training decisions in the future and help you to become a better athlete. If you know how your training has allowed you to improve your fitness in certain areas, then you can look to keep using strategies that work for you. Or if there are certain areas of your fitness that have not developed, and if those aspects of your fitness matter to you, then you can look for ways to change your training so that you can get more out of your body. Of course, we always have to strike a balance, because we all have a finite ability to recover from training. But with the right priorities and an understanding of what training works for us, we can make better training choices.
Analyzing your training or your fitness at any given point in time or over time can be daunting, or even confusing, because there are potentially a lot of different things that you could take into account. Don’t overthink it. Usually a few basic things can give you a lot of insight. Usually, I would recommend starting with the following:
- Become familiar with your peak power curve and how much power you can produce for any given length of time
- See what your power profile is like, or in other words, see how your power stacks up against other riders for various durations of time
- Look at how your power has changed over time from year to year
- Look at the training that led up to any times that you set peak power
- If you don’t have a power meter, then look at your PRs on some key climbs near you that you ride hard on a regular basis
- Look at how your power or your climbing times stack up towards the end of your rides to how your power or climbing times are when you are fresh
- Look for strategies that worked for you in reaching peak fitness or leading into successful racing experiences and try to continue to use those in the future
- Look for times when you didn’t have good fitness or didn’t perform well at races, try to identify if your lack of performance was unavoidable because you got sick, busy at work, or otherwise disrupted by something out of your control, or if you had some control over the contributing factors. If you have any choice or control over things, look for how you could make better training choices in the future.
Always try to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Always be learning and trying to streamline the process, so that you can get more out of your body and out of your schedule.