Weekend Reading: 3 Reasons to Schedule a Challenging Event Every 3 Months

This week I was talking with one of the CTS Athletes who will be joining me for the La Ruta de los Conquistadores race in Costa Rica later this month. We were talking about his preparation and I mentioned that his performances in training and competitions have been remarkably consistent over the past 18 months. It turns out he’s a great illustration of what I’ve been preaching for years: If you stay in shape you never have to get in shape!

Here’s what Steven has been doing, what I have been doing, and maybe what you should be doing: Schedule a challenging event every three months.

If you look at my schedule over the past few years, a roughly three-month pattern starts to appear. It starts with Trans Andes in January, Spring Training Camp(s) in March, the Amgen Tour of California Race Experience in May, the USA Pro Challenge Race Experience in August, and then La Ruta in late October. There are other events in there, too, (like Dirty Kanza in late May/early June) but the big mult-day ones are about every three months.

I realize, of course, that running a coaching company is a large part of what makes my particular schedule possible, but the underlying premise is something that can be very effective for any athlete. It all comes down to finding the optimal spacing, and here’s why I think a 3-4 month interval between goal events works great:

1. Time to recover

Following a big goal event, everyone wants a little time to decompress and relax. It’s good for the body and the mind. With a 3-4 month gap between goal events, there’s enough time to take a week or two of recovery time and light activity before getting back into the swing of productive training. As an added bonus, during this period you’re adapting and gaining fitness due to the training stimulus from your recent event. Remember, a big event is also a big training stimulus!


  • Fall Coaching Offer: You asked and we listened! Fall Coaching Offer is extended through October 31! New 12month coaching signups pay nothing for the first month. Available online, by calling 719-635-0645, or emailing athleteservices@trainright.com.
  • Fall Mileage Cycling Camp: Great riding at the heart of harvest season in California’s Santa Ynez Valley from October 16-19.
  • Triathlon Fall Endurance Camp: Triathlon training and testing in sunny Arizona from November 13-17.
  • El Tour Endurance Camp: Weeklong endurance training camp culminating in El Tour de Tucson event (entry included) in Tucson, Arizona from November 18-23.
  • Spring Training Camps: It’s not too early to reserve your spot at a CTS Spring Training Camp in Santa Ynez, Tucson, or Brevard!

2. Time to train

When athletes cluster their goal events into a short period within the year, it can be difficult to have enough time to both recover and train between events. That leads to a 'race-and-recover' period where there isn't enough time to really focus on productive training in between competitions. It's not bad for competitions to also provide a training stimulus (see Reason Number 1), but it's also important to have the time to incorporate that stimulus into a more comprehensive plan. With a goal event every 3-4 months and perhaps smaller events in between for fun and skills work, you have enough time to focus on effective training blocks between meaningful competitions.

3. Time to stay motivated

When I got home from the USA Pro Challenge on August 25 I was happy, content, and exhausted. Within a few weeks I had done my recovery time, gotten back into some structured training, and my next adventure was about two months away. With La Ruta on the horizon it was easy to stay motivated to train, but when the interval between goal events is too long athletes find it easier for their focus to wander.

By spacing goal events out every 3-4 months you never give yourself too much time to lose a lot of fitness, which means you never have that feeling you’re ‘starting over’ when you finally identify another goal to train for. For me that means I know I can drop into any CTS event or training camp and be an effective coach. For Steven and other athletes it removes the pressure associated with signing up for events. They know that even though their fitness fluctuates up and down, when it comes to performance they’ll always be good, they’ll never be out of shape, and at any time they can go from good to great within about 8 weeks!

So as the days get shorter and cooler, and your motivation to train starts to dwindle, remember: If you stay in shape, you never have to get in shape! Now is a good time to set up a series of goal events – big rides, races, or training camps – for the next several months.

Have a Great Weekend
Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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