Every individual athlete and team looking to win has a competition plan.
What makes a Great Plans different from a good plan? Why can some athletes exceed expectations in major events, while others are lucky to finish in one piece? For one, many athletes are taught that a competition plan is a series of instructions on how to execute a top performance, from wake up time, meals, hydration, etc. through to the finish of the event. While this is a core aspect of a plan, it is not what makes a Great Plans.
Great Plans know and accept the reality of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. These are the hard rules to your plan and can not be improved on once the competition is underway;
- Physiological parameters: pVO2, HR, lung capacity, anaerobic threshold, etc.
- Biomechanical parameters: muscular force, range of motion, muscular velocity, power output, bike fit, etc.
- Psychological parameters: behaviours, positive thinking, focusing, relaxing, coping, visualizing, etc.
And to a lesser degree, the things you can’t change but will impact your performance if you ignore them;
- Equipment: wetsuit, goggles, bike, hydration, nutrition, bike aerodynamics, tire pressure
- Race course: knowing where to go and how to get there on race day and before
- Rules and officiating: how you play the game
Once the competition is underway, these parameters set limits. To the athlete in survival mode, the race outcome is almost exclusively a function of their strengths and weaknesses.
For the Champions with a Great Plan they can also see possibilities leading to whole other worlds unfolding and blossoming around them. A world of endless opportunities. Being in the right place at the right time has nothing to do with luck, but all about awareness of how to seize a good opportunity. On the flip side, the right opportunities are only possible if you can be aware of and negate any threats to that will expose a weakness or limit your strengths.
So go ahead begin with time management and basic strategy using your known strength and weaknesses. Then take the extra step and consider the opportunities out there.
This could be as simple as examining each opponent and figuring out how to capitalize on each of their weakness. And while you’re looking at your opponents, remember to do the same on yourself! This is how they will see you. Some might even consider it flattering that an opponent has considered their weaknesses and how to exploit them!
A more complex analysis could involve breaking down strengths and weaknesses as a function of time (i.e. every 10-15 minutes in a marathon, minute by minute in a middle distance event, etc.), specific events (i.e. cornering on a bike criterium, left vs right corners, corners into uphills, etc.) or even as a function of weather (i.e. high heat, extreme cold, wind, rain, etc.)… the possibilities are endless, as are the opportunities.
A Great Plan should not be so complex you can’t use it. Let it grow with time as you learn more about your opponents and about yourself.
Now go make your own Great Plan.