After months of training hard and racing harder, it’s tempting to quickly switch into offseason mode and turn your attention to new activities.

But before you pack up the bike and put away the swim fins, you owe it to yourself to thoroughly review what happened (and what didn’t) during the race season. This allows you to build on your recent experiences and create an even more rewarding, faster and successful triathlon season next time.

curveball water swim start

The trap that many triathletes fall into is focusing on just the race results. Win or not? PR or not? Allowing your success to be determined solely by the finish line clock or your ranking is not fair to all the effort and time you invested. You deserve more credit than that.

Here are nine critical, but often overlooked, steps to effectively evaluating your triathlon season—or more accurately, to evaluating yourself during your triathlon season. These nine questions will help give you additional insight and help you to realize more of your potential going forward.

1. In hindsight, were your season goals clear and attainable?

Did you achieve what you set out to do at the start of the year? Knowing what you know now could you have aimed higher, or were you somewhat unrealistic in your expectations of your time, commitments or the physical skills you needed to develop? Use hindsight as a barometer for thinking ahead to next year and create goals that push you and inspire you to go for it.

2. What were you most proud of this season?

Was it the improvement you saw in your swim, bike and run splits? Or your dedication and ability to balance your other responsibilities around the sport? How you overcame setbacks and still performed at a high level? Think of the big things and the little moments that you look back on with pride and delight in what you accomplished.

3. What would you like to duplicate next year?

Perhaps it’s working with the same coach or training plan, continuing to do a variety of races and taking on big challenges that excite you and motivate you to train consistently. Of the things that you really enjoyed, what would you like to be sure you experience again?

4. What frustrated or disappointed you the most this season?

Did you struggle to see consistent improvement in your speed? Fail to summon your determination when things got hard? Were you unable to overcome nagging injuries? What concerned you and took some of your energy away from the positive things?

5. What do you not want to happen again next year?

Were you unprepared for some races and found you performed better in training than in racing? Did you take yourself and the sport too seriously, forgetting to have fun along the way? Look for insights from question four—things that you need to avoid in order to be at your best. Put emphasis and focus on things that you can control or influence.

What did you learn by going through these experiences?

We all have good and bad days (and races and seasons) but what you take away from them can make all the difference the next time around. Despite the challenges or painful times, what valuable lessons did you learn? What meaningful lessons can you take forward as you build on your experience as a triathlete? How can you catch yourself from slipping backwards the next time you hit a rough patch?

7. What decisions did you make that were empowering for you?

Think about the conscious decisions you made about what you committed to or improved: your nutrition, getting support from a coach or community, your approach to training and recovery, how you managed your life around your workouts, the number or frequency of races, etc. What were some of the most important decisions of the year for you, both related to triathlon and other parts of your life where relevant? And therefore, what decisions must you make for next season to experience even more success?

8. What habits seemed to hold you back from achieving your potential?

We all have them. Recurring ways of behaving and thinking which sometimes we realize—even when we know it’s not in our best interest—and sometimes we don’t. What causes you to skip training sessions? What do you tend to say to yourself during a race or training session, or when the alarm goes off before sunrise? In which ways has your diet been limiting your body’s potential? Where have you procrastinated or not been as disciplined as you’d like to be? Be really honest and list the items that you must change in order to achieve your goals.

9. What decisions should you make in order to have your best triathlon year ahead?

Building off your insights from all the previous questions, what will you continue to do, where do you need to get extra help, what will you stop doing? This is a critical step, take your time and identify the key decisions you need to make.

Remember, for maximum impact, take you time and answer all of these in writing.

Give credit where credit is due. You may not like some of the answers you come up with but it may well set you free, strengthen your inner game, and keep your motivation high to stay fit in the offseason and be at your best when the new triathlon season returns.

You’ll be glad you did: Your body, mind and results will prove it.

Article by Chris Janzen for Active