Reflect and Reframe

By Patti Waller | Jan. 02, 2019, 5:15 p.m. (ET)

Chillaxing at the pool during the off season

The turn of the calendar year brings about joy, chaos and gratitude. During this time, I ask my athletes to relax, recover and reflect. As soon as January 1 hits, I will be slammed with emails requesting guidance to get the holiday weight down, start training and schedule races. (That actually started in November with some of my over-achievers.)


To plan effectively for the coming race season, it’s important to look back at the previous one and ask yourself several key questions.

  1. Did your race performance improve?
  2. Did you suffer injury? What was the root issue, and are you still attentive to keeping things in check?
  3. How was your time management with regard to training, racing, work, family, etc.?
  4. Did you find a nutrition plan that works well with training and racing?
  5. Did you stay mentally in check with your goals and outcomes?

Being realistic and accepting of what happened during your season is important.  It’s part of personal growth in the sport. And as a reminder, while it’s good to test ourselves and set challenging goals, we are primarily in this for fun.


Season planning can move you in either of two directions. Your coming season could reinforce last season’s progress and accomplishments—or it could be a completely new vision. Remember the following points as you develop your plan:

  1. Select A, B, C races. Early-season racing is about getting your toe back in the water and the butt in the saddle.
  2. Get your physical and any needed lab work out of the way.
  3. Tune up the machine and assess your equipment needs. Throw out what is broken or worn out.
  4. Stay on top of strength training – this is a topic all its own, but it is critical to longevity in life and sport.
  5. Set realistic PR goals – KISS (Keep It Simple, Superstar)
  6. Talk with a coach. Using cookie-cutter internet plans will not offer you the BEST training for your needs and goals.
  7. Spend time early on focusing on your weakest link. For most it is swimming, but not always.
  8. Keep a journal of your training/racing season. This is an exceptional tool for building a better focus when things feel off course.
  9. Train with a purpose. Junk mileage is like junk food—a waste.
  10. Be kind to yourself. Recovery is a component of training. A day or two off can be the difference between injury and finish-line victory.

Having a clear vision will help you achieve productive training sessions. Race day will always be a moment of challenges and triumphs. You are the person who inspires, who continues to learn, and who succeeds every day just by giving it your best. Cheers to all for a great new year!

Coach Patti Waller is a certified USAT Triathlon Coach, Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, and Health Coach. She has worked in the fitness industry for 20 years, and has been coaching endurance athletes since 2006. Patti still actively competes in triathlon and marathon events. Her athletes follow the creed Training With A Purpose, so that every effort is a benchmark towards improvement. She can be reached at

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.