If you don’t know where you’re going, will you ever get there? You wouldn’t start a road trip with no destination, and your triathlon journey is no different. This is the time of year where I sit with my athletes and go over goals. We start with a look back on the season and review what worked well, what we can improve upon, and why. Then we shift to looking forward. If we have a long term goal in place, how are we making steps towards it? If we do not, can we create a long term goal? Once we have that established, what are the steps, or benchmarks we can put in place in order to reach this goal? Can we come up with progress goals or stepping stone goals along the way?
Once we have some long term (think five or more years) and short term ( three months to a couple years) goals in place, we can map out how to achieve them. Then, we can discuss the race calendar. The last piece of the puzzle, not the first. Now we’re ready with a destination and route to get there.
The goals we set must meet certain criteria. One way goals are traditionally broken down is to make them SMART goals. Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, and Time bound. Let’s break down a classic goal. Let’s say Amy creates a goal of qualifying for Kona at Ironman Arizona in 2020. This goal meets all of the requirements of a SMART Goal.
It is specific. She doesn’t say, “I want to have a good race at Ironman Arizona,” she defines what that means to her. It is measurable. We will know immediately after whether she has achieved it or not. The other side of measurable is the side you can control though. We can look at past results and say that Amy needs to go just below that 10 hour mark to claim her spot. Then we can break down what that would look like for her. This gives us measurable goals for training as well as race goals. So if Amy hits her goals and goes 10 hours, but it just so happens other girls do as well and she doesn’t get to Kona, we can still be happy with the race and the process.
Is this goal Achievable? That is a conversation with the athlete where you look at where they are now and what they need to do to reach those measurable goals. This ties in not only physical capabilities but also time availability, desire, and other life goals. This race has a date, so this goal has a deadline, making it time bound. After the goal, we can restart the process.
Goals do not have to be races. They can be fitness benchmarks, events, or even training log goals. These are things like hitting 90% of your prescribed workouts, or training 25 days every month, hitting x number of hours each week, or hitting your goal numbers on x workouts each month. Goals can be whatever you want them to be. The biggest thing is, they need to be right for you. It is important that goals come from the athlete, for the athlete, and the athlete is invested in achieving them. I can throw out benchmarks, but it is much more meaningful if the goal has value and is from the athlete. Create your own goals for you, just make sure they are SMART!!