We’ve all heard of them before, the five P’s. They may be mentioned at work, at school, at university, and certainly they are appropriate when organising a racing season or even a single race. Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. While many of us may strive to live by these five P’s, I have found recently that it’s another quintet that have taken their place.
Plan. You always have to have a plan – be it sketched out in your head, a spreadsheet or maybe just in a notebook. This is where I write down some races and dates, and make a general note of where they are in the world. Transport logisitics will come together later but I want to know where I’m going to go.
Periodise. While some mates have claimed that I hit each year just by choosing the ‘Enter Everything’ option of online entries, this is not entirely true. Getting to as many marathon and stage races as possible within a limited time frame (also known as ‘Living The Dream’ amateur-style) is an attractive lifestyle choice. But there is some logic to it. Four day stage races have been used as preparation for week long ones. XC has been used to prepare for fast marathons. And partying in New York City for a week has been used to prepare for the Shenandoah 100. By the time it’s summer, usually the training is done and it’s the racing period.
Prioritise. Some races will always be more important than others. And some travel options will be more important than others. Unfortunately this is not always apparent at the time, and can only become evident in hindsight. Nevertheless, I do attempt to rank races on a scale of importance to myself. If it’s midweek in London, it is time to suffer. Road, Short track, ‘cross. I don’t care. Make it hurt, and if you go too deep and don’t finish, so be it. No doubt it will be an hour or more each way from where I’m staying, so the session is pretty long anyway,with about an hour bouncing off the rev limiter. Other marathons may slip down my mental ranking system – and there is usually a visual hint. If I’m not carrying spares, I’m probably not too fussed about finishing it anymore. Perhaps the hardest one is when to race and when to chill out. This is where hindsight comes in, and I’m still not sure I made the right decision to go suffer at St Wendel as opposed to floating on a boat around Croatia earlier this year.
Pear Shaped. It happens. You get sick. You get tired. You get injured. Or maybe it’s clinical CBF. Either way, things are no longer going to plan. This throws your Planning, Periodisation and Prioritising right out the window, ditched like an empty bidon at a feedzone. But once thing clear up, and you get the clarity back, we come to the final P. And this is where I have just arrived for 2010.
Pure Cramming. Getting the miles in. Doing the hours. Long days in the office. Smashing k’s. It’s nonsensical, and can barely be related to any aspect of exercise physiology. But when you need form, fast it seems like the only option. Road, ‘cross, mountain-bike – you’ll take the time on the bike anyway you can. There is certainly an element of panic involved, and this will be evident through much manic flailing of arms and exasperated comments, “Rain! What? I’ve got to train, now!”
So although it may be of little physical use, the cramming shows a good sign, your keen to get moving again, and hoping beyond hope that the next time you have a number on and a transponder attached you are not going to embarrass yourself.