Tip of the Week: Goals!

Goal setting: making it count

Our tip of the week this week (after taking a hiatus to FL last week) is all about GOAL setting and how that helps keep our training on track. Goals are what get us up in the morning for masters swim, push hard through one more interval when we are tired, and focus on healthy eating that supports our training. Goals provide focus, guidance and motivation; encouraging us to move toward them with enthusiasm and desire. 

Personal development research and self-help theories offer an over-abundance of goal setting advice. The one thing they all agree on is that goal setting is critical to success. Without getting into all the research here, I’d like to focus on two basic categories I find most helpful when assisting athletes in setting goals.

Two basic categories:
1) Short term and long term goals
2) Process and outcome goals

Setting goals for the short term and long term can take some time, especially if you are new to endurance athletics as we don’t even know what our bodies are capable of achieving and then also what races or experiences might be available to us. The great news is that goals are amendable... you can change them to align with your direction as you grow in the sport.

Short term goals could look something like this:
1) I will drop 5 seconds in my 100 swim time over the next 2 months of training
2) I will lose these 5 holiday pounds by Easter
3) I will run a 1 minute PR this year at the Crazylegs Classic.

Notice each of these has a specific time frame for which to achieve the goal in a short team basis.

Long term goals are also time specific, however, will take longer (think years) to achieve and often encourage us to look 2-5 years down the road.

Long terms goals could look something like this:
1) I will complete my first sprint distance triathlon this year and then do that same race over the next 3 years and improve 1 minute in each discipline per year.
2) I will improve my 40K Olympic distance bike time by 2 minutes (or 30 watts) over the next year.
3) I will finish a sprint triathlon this year, an Olympic distance in 2017, a half-Ironman distance in 2018 and a full Ironman in 2019.

Process goals are designed to support both short term and long term goals, as these are both outcome goals. We can establish several process goals that if achieved, will help us achieve a bigger goal, our outcome goal. Process goals are what we focus on day in and day out that lead us toward achieving a desired outcome. Let’s consider one of our short term goals from above.

Short term + Outcome goal: 

I will run a 1’ PR this year at the Crazylegs Classic

Process goals:

I will complete all prescribed run workouts over the next 6 weeks
I will continue to work on technique/form improvements through run specific drills
I will wear my HR/GPS watch during all run sessions to make sure I am training at the right paces/zones

A couple more things on goals:

1) Goals need to be in the positive, focusing on what you want (eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day), as opposed to what you don't want (stop eating junk food).
2) Goals are YOU dependent, not other dependent. Notice not a single one of the goals I used for examples above depends on anyone else but YOU. Your main goals should be within your control. It’s fine to say “I want to place in my age group at X event”, however, if a lot of fast people show up, you might not get to achieve your goal. Instead, create a process and outcome goal for that X race that, regardless of your place, you determine if you met your goal.

I encourage you, if you haven’t done so already, to sit down (this might take a while) and write down your goals for the year (and beyond!), keeping in mind the categories and guidelines above. Once you have these established, solidify them by creating a goal poster or goal road map, putting sticky notes on your bathroom mirror, or setting up reminders in your phone to follow through on your process goals. If you do this, you will have increased motivation for your training, excitement as you witness your progress toward your goals, and a grand sense of achievement when you put in the work and see those dreams become reality on race day.