Tips for summarizing a season, lessons learned, what worked/didn't work, etc

In an effort to come up with some sort of game plan for next year I am struggling with how best to summarize this year and “see” what gave me the best results. Was curious how people go about doing this?

Long story short, I had my best season ever this year trying different things and learned a lot about what I respond to but think I can cut out some of the “noise”, or stuff that wasn’t productive, to be even better next year. I had amazing (for me) fitness going into my A event (gravel race) but also feel like I had an unexpected peak a couple weeks after at a mtb race.

FWIW I use TR, Strava and Intervals.icu for my data. TR seems tough to use for this as I can’t really zoom out on the calendar to get a bigger picture or see any kind of fitness/freshness type of metric. Would Training Peaks or WKO be better for this? I feel like Intervals.icu should work for this, maybe I just need to learn more how to use it.

Any input is appreciated!

If you had somehow tracked that before your most successful race you ate a single peanut, you may be able to convince yourself that this is the secret sauce for next year.

You didn’t run a controlled experiment (obviously :upside_down_face:) so any answer will only be post-hoc and necessarily imperfect.

there is no easy way, you need to dig through this. However, there is a lot to learn and there is value in this!

Look through your data and identify what worked for you. Training is essentially

  • load
  • recovery from load, including sleep
  • nutrition
  • the setting in which training occurred (job, social, relationships)

When did you have weeks of successful workouts?
What did you do in your race that you think made you successful ?
How long was your race taper?
What did you do in the weeks before your unexpected peak?

Etc.

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Thanks!

I’d argue that I did, I just haven’t figured out how to go over everything as there’s so much data/info.

I made notes of daily weight, mood, effort, pre race and race day nutrition, etc.

That’s probably the trap.

Like you, the last 2 years have been my most successful, in terms of fitness, but with two very different approaches.

In 2020 I had a ton of free time & did a high volume Polarized experiment; raised & extended my entire power curve with all-time PRs.

Didn’t have the same time available in 2021 so had to take a different approach — block periodisation. With focused intensity, I’ve set 10, 20, and 60min power PRs (so even stronger than 2020!).

Not a lot of data needed to see that I require a certain volume and certain structure to do well.

Get the big things right and the minutia will (probably) take care of itself, or at least not require constant attention.

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Do you think the big volume in 2020 laid the foundation for the gains you saw this year?

A lot of this stuff is cumulative so can make it challenging to look at any one “thing” in isolation.

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Yes, it obviously built some long-term stuff to build off of, but also no because of the training inconsistency of this year.

In 2019 and 2020 I did a lot of low intensity volume (respectively, 80 & 75% of total hours; 65% in 2021).
However, I did 25% fewer workouts in 2020 than in 2019, and will do about 15% fewer workouts in 2021 than 2020 (and 50% fewer than 2019!). I can definitively say that in 2020 it was high volume which drove my performance gains; in 2021 it was exclusively a block of VO2max work.

I’m nowhere near the point of having to get hyper-specific, I’m still getting very decent gains on large generalities – more volume and dedicated blocks of intensity. About the only detailed data I focus on is time in zone, adding more to each progressive workout. I also test my numbers ~1/month to see what’s what.

The one thing I don’t do is mix all the zones together like TR plans so often do (e.g. SS, VO2, and Threshold all in the same week).

The data is only one side of the equation, the other side needs to be a lot of questions – what is this data going to get me? Will I interpret it correctly? Will I prescribe the correct training to improve the future data? How much improvement will I get? Is it the data worth the time? Is this data relevant to my goals? etc.

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On a tangentially related topic, how do you guys compare “fitness” from year to year?

I’ve been looking at IntervalsICU compare options, I can see a clear difference in the “fitness” metric, but that’s mostly volume. The power options I’d like to compare I think are there but I’m not sure if I’m reading them correctly or have funky data somewhere making things hard.

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First thing I’d look at is volume because it’s possibly the main driver of everything.

If volume did increase on a material basis, which zones increased?

If your volume didn’t drastically change, then start digging into other factors.

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I can’t see which zones, but I did find the total work and total time, they are both higher so that’s a good indicator.

I was hoping to see that I’m holding X amount more Watts per week comparison, but maybe that’s unnecessary.

Good point! I really should be looking at 2020 as well as I only did 1 race. I pulled the plug pretty early when everything started going down and decided rather than stress about racing and training (on top of everything else) I’d just ride for fun pretty much all unstructured.

So for sure a lot less intensity in 2020 and like you, I did a lot of new stuff this year a la the sweet spot progression (and similar) threads.

Time to look at some numbers…

Hint hint.

You body probably did a good bit of recovery during this time vs hamming intervals all week.

Agree with this… I think the question left (and no clear answer) is what is the best approach to maximize the gains (ie is one approach better than another, or does it matter that much). I’m in a similar boat and have defaulted to do what is enjoyable/available at the time and I’ll see gains if there is some progression.

Thanks for the detailed response.

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