We all have them, and they are all individual. I believe it is very important to have goals, not just in training and racing, but life in general. As I have mentioned before, this is one of the things that I love about this sport! We are all involved for a different reason and we are individual. Things like training and racing to lose weight and get healthy, kicking a bad habit, raising money or awareness, helping a friend train and achieve their goals, beating a previous time, making it to a world championship, or, like some of us…getting to that top spot on the podium! Goals are important. They give us something to work towards, and achieving those goals is a feeling like no other. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and it’s important to try to roll with these changes and get back on track, or perhaps, set a different goal. On this note…. These goals need to be realistic. Setting unrealistic goals is just setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment, and worst case, failure. Maybe you have a huge goal, and that’s awesome, but you should be setting smaller, more attainable goals to get to that big one. For example: If you have trained to the best of your potential, had nothing unexpected happen during a race, and finishing in 14, 15 or 16+ hours (for example)….. Setting a goal of winning or landing a Kona slot is not necessarily a realistic goal. Perhaps one day, but smaller goals should be set. Like making gains in training first, that will translate to a faster day on the race course. If you cannot get faster in training, going faster on race day is unrealistic and perhaps your goals should be adjusted.
Here’s a few tips on goal setting:
1. Big goals and realistic goals are two totally different things. Big goals are great, and you will need to have smaller goals along the way to get to the big one. Once you reach that big goal, the feeling of accomplishment will be incredible and maybe you will be in a comfortable place, or maybe you will set some new goals.
2. Adjust your goals to keep it fun. If things are not panning out the way you originally wanted, adjustments to your goals should be made. Setting unrealistic goals, getting frustrated and disappointed will only result in discouragement and loss of love for the sport. The same is true for Professional athletes. If I’m ever feeling like the fun factor is fading, I know it is time for a physical and mental break. While this is my job, it is still important for it to stay fun. No one likes to go to a job every day that they hate.
3. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. I’m not saying to forget about those who inspire you, because we all have those….it’s another thing that helps drive us. What I am saying, is when you are out training, remember you are individual and have individual strengths. Having someone to push you is great, and can help make you faster, but developing a mental case of always coming down on yourself because you can’t swim, bike or run as fast as your friends is not healthy. This is all coming back to having a realistic mindset. Work as hard as you can, put the work and effort in, and stay positive.
4. Coming to terms with where your abilities are as an athlete is important. Realistically, we are all built differently with different strengths and weaknesses. Learning these is crucial to training and racing as it plays a big role in what goals are realistic. For example, you will NEVER see me on the Olympic triathlon team (I have no short course speed), and you will NEVER see me come out of the water in world record time, or run a 2:30-something marathon. I will work as hard as I can to become faster in these disciplines, but at some point I will reach the max of what MY body is capable of. I need to work with my strengths, work as hard as I can at my weaknesses, and set my goals based on that. I need to do everything I can in training, put 110% physical and mental effort in, and approach race day knowing I did everything I could to have my best day possible. For me, setting a goal of winning an Ironman is big but realistic…. Setting a goal of winning Kona (which would be amazing) is unrealistic at this point. And I am ok with this:)
Hopefully you got some take-always from this. Enjoy your training as we head into the 2019 season. Set some good (realistic) goals, try your best and HAVE FUN!