by Molly Balfe, CBCG Coach, USAT Level II
“So, what's your big race this year?” Have you fielded this question yet? Well, it’s already 2018, so your race calendar should be taking form, making it the perfect time to focus on goal-setting for the season. Your coaches know that you are looking to see improvements year upon year, but it is crucial to have a conversation about what you are specifically hoping to accomplish, and how you’ll know you have achieved those goals. Here are a few tips to help you work with your coach to make 2018 your best year yet:
Be clear with yourself and your coach about what you want to achieve. Improving your swim is a commendable goal, but what are the specific indicators that will help you measure that improvement? Are you hoping to drop time off your threshold pace? Swim under an hour for your Ironman? Complete a sprint distance race without stopping? The more specifically you define your desired outcome, the better your coach can help you get there.
Think Short and Long Term
Remember the bigger picture when you decide what you want to accomplish this year, ensuring your short-term goals are compatible with your overarching goals for yourself as an athlete. How does this season move you towards being the athlete (and person!) you want to be? If you are hoping to one day get to Kona, stand on a podium at Pacific Crest, or compete in an ITU race, your coach needs to know that. Even if that is not this year’s goal, every step you take should move you in that direction. What are the small to medium-sized accomplishments that you can achieve this year that would help Future You reach that bigger goal? Pro Tip - don’t neglect the psychological aspects of the sport. If you feel you are consistently falling short of your potential, take a good look at your mental game and consider if working on that should be part of your annual planning.
Resist Goal Envy
There is always someone whose goal seems bigger, badder, or more audacious. Example: that athlete who is trying to win the race you’re merely hoping you can complete. Stay away from this type of comparison. We spend large portions of our time, energy, and income training and racing in this sport. Your goal may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but it may add quality years to your life or quality moments to your year. Take your goals seriously, train hard, and be grateful for the times when you feel strong. Also, remember that your goal is bigger, badder, and more audacious than someone else’s. Cheer on your fellow athletes. Go fast. Have fun. Be nice.