5 Resolutions every athlete needs to have for the new year.
These elementary principles are some of the most powerful tools in building a strong and successful season. - me
In usual Trifitventure fashion, this post is less about the science and proven methodology of good goal setting, and more about unsolicited advice on what I think will make for a fresh, new season, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt or not take it at all.
From my experience as both a coach and an athlete for the past half decade (I say half decade because it sounds like a longer time frame than 6 years, therefore giving me expert levels of credibility) I have seen athletes make (and made myself) no small portion of goals. Ranging from long term to short term; form based to time based, and everything in-between. I have had athletes come to me with goals of racing their first triathlon, and going big in the process with a 70.3 (Half Ironman), and others who simply want to take a few minutes off their sprint time.
Now I could sit here and list all the ways to set smart, attainable goals, tell you when you should use performance and progress based goals in place of time specific goals and that a goal is more likely achieved when you are held accountable, but I'm not going to (except for right then). Plus I am pretty *definitely* sure that all the inspirational and cliché quotes about goal setting will undoubtedly be popping up on your social media feed so I am going to save myself the time, and save you the repeat lesson.
The following resolutions, although nothing new, or groundbreaking, are what I have caught onto as a coach and athlete to be some of the most powerful tools in building a strong successful season. No matter what a successful season means to you personally (because your goals are not my goals and my goals are not Jens Voigt's goals, but I will be repeatedly telling my legs to shut up) Hopefully there’s a few breadcrumbs that you can take away as the year draws to a close.
1. Know your why
Yes, I'm starting off that basic. I’m also going to end that basic too so if you aren't up for it, bail out now. There’s a dozen youtube videos on knowing your why, finding your why, there's even a book about it. If you haven't heard this term yet, you are a little behind but it's fine I am here to help. You can think of your "why" as your own personal mission statement. Your “why” is your purpose. It is the driving force behind what makes you tick and lends itself to fill your motivation tank when you're running on empty. Everyone has a "why". If you didn't you wouldn't be reading this. Think about your why, write it down on paper, and begin listing your goals underneath it. Come back to your "why" when the going gets tough.
2. Have Structure
The amount of structure, and what kind of structure you follow, is up to you. This is your life and your masterpiece. Paint it how you see fit. If you are a competitive athlete looking for a breakthrough performance, you are going to require a large amount of structure, something I am sure you are well aware of. Regardless of competition level, every athlete should have structure in his or her plan. It will help you achieve your goal in every single step of the way. Find ways to lay your structure where you can visualize it. In 2011 when I first start seriously training for triathlon, was self coached, working 2 jobs, and a full time student; I would write out my training plan on a piece of notebook paper (generally during class but at least I looked busy). I would take the time to write out block by block every week through the full semester of school. I slid that paper under the clear plastic outside of my three ring binders where I saw it every day. I may have upgraded to software that l can see my plan on my phone, but the concept remains the same. Have structure-follow that structure. It will help you with everything, especially consistency, bringing us to #3 on the list.
I've said, you've heard it. I've been told it. Stay. Consistent. This is one of those things where if I could physically or vocally emphasize a point, I would. STAY CONSISTENT. There is absolutely no substitute for being on your game. One of my favorite quotes when I got into this mess of endurance sports was (and remains) "Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard" This is absolutely true and probably one of the only times you can catch me quoting a basketball player. I really don't think anything else needs to be said here but STAY CONSISTENT.
The key to not getting burned out, finding balance. This is in more regards than one. Balancing training takes the form of getting adequate rest and recovery, knowing when to go hard, when to go easy, and when to not go at all. You need to find balance in your training and if you are unsure how to do so I suggest asking someone who can help, or finding yourself a coach who can work with you on a personal level. Apart from training, you also need to find balance in your life. If your training and racing takes over every aspect of your personal life, you are headed for burn out. Make sure to make time for friends, social activities, and some of the other rad things your mortal existence has to offer. If you don't have friends, I can help as long as you aren't particular on how bad of puns your friends are allowed to make (very bad). There are also plenty of social media training groups out there ready to welcome you with open arms.
I told you it was going to end basic. This is my core, so I of course will harp on this until my fingers bleed.. In every season, every activity, there is something to be enjoyed. Let yourself go from time to time and just enjoy the moment. The sunset, the smell of the fresh air, passing that chump who has been beating you for months... whatever. The raw enjoyment of endurance sports is the real reason behind the youthful appearance of older endurance athletes. Don't let anybody try to tell you differently.
No matter what your personal goals are for the new year, I hope you find room to incorporate some of these simple tips to keep you on the right track. Simple? Absolutely, but that doesn't take away from the merit that these elementary components hold.