2017 has definitely been a year of change and transition. Everything about my life has changed, including my physical location, priorities, schedule and general way of life.
When it comes to training and racing, I normally set out some goals in my mind for that season. But until this year, I hadn’t ever written them down. Or really thought about them. Like really analyze them and determine what it actually takes to achieve them. I more accurately could describe them as wishes that I hoped would come true by the end of the season.
A couple months ago, I started emailing my triathlon coach my goals. He suggested that I break it down into three areas: goals for the month, the year, and beyond this year. So I did just that. Wrote out my goals for the year and coming years. Each month, I write out a few to focus on for that current period.
But compared to previous years, I made one huge adjustment. My goals now focus on the process, or the behaviours I have to do, in order to achieve these goals. Things that are directly in my control. I think about something that I want, and then determine what action I can do to increase the chances of that outcome. So instead of a running goal being “run 10 km in under 40 minutes”, it could be “complete hip-opening stretches after each run session”. Can I complete hip-opening stretches after each run session? Yes, that is in my control. Will completing this behaviour help me progress toward running a faster 10 km, perhaps in under 40 minutes? Yes, because it will help decrease the chance of getting injured, which will mean I can train consistently, and consistency is the key to seeing performance improvements.
Another extremely different change I’ve noticed is how much this type of goal has a positive impact psychologically. I recently decided I wanted to take an exam to get another certification. So I bought the study materials and set a date that I wanted to be done by. But then I started studying and felt completely overwhelmed. The material was very technical, very complex and suddenly became very stressful. So instead, I changed my goal. Instead of it being “write (and pass) this exam in September”, my goal is “read and comprehend one chapter of study materials per week”. This goal is so much more manageable! I can do that. It’s totally within my control. It doesn’t seem overwhelming anymore and it will lead to me being able to study and learn the materials in order to pass the test. The same outcome but with a totally different (and better!) mindset to get there.
I think the biggest take-away for me was that goals should not only be challenging, after-all, the point is to improve yourself, but also exciting. Not overwhelming and stressful. And the key to making goals feel that way is by creating goals that are completely within your control. You can’t control the weather for a 10 km race, but you can control the training you do leading up to the race. And being able to check-off monthly goals build small victories that also contribute to confidence. As well as enjoyment of the whole process. If you’re not enjoying the process, and feeling stressed about whether you will or won’t complete a goal that may not even be within your control, then what is the point?!
At the end of the day, if I can say that I successfully completed my process-based goals to the best of my ability…then won’t I have had a successful triathlon season, no matter what my actual outcomes or results are? I think so. And that means that no matter what happens this year, I know that at the end of it I will feel successful. What could be better than that?!
Can you adjust your goals to be process-oriented, enjoyable and within your control? Perhaps that could be the biggest game-changer for your training and racing season this year!
Check out my race schedule and results here.
I also use the above goal concepts in nutrition coaching. My program is based on changing behaviours by learning and practicing healthy habits, one step at a time. Leading to consistent, and long-term results. Take a look at my program here.
Interested in endurance coaching for this season? It’s not too late! Check out this page.