As triathletes, it is important to have goals set for yourself. Having goals will keep you motivated and focused throughout your training. But, we need to remember there is a difference between a goal and a dream. The problem with mistaking the two is if you don’t succeed with your dream, you may be disappointed and it will drain your motivation. Your goals, however, should support your dreams. Reaching a goal will require more than just making a vague statement and hoping it will come true. Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related (“SMART”).
Let’s look at the following goal:
“I want to race XYZ race 1 minute and 10 seconds faster than I did when I raced it in 2011.”
- S = Specific. Make your goals precise by saying exactly what you mean. In the example above, we see this athlete raced the same race last year and they are trying to race it again this year faster than last.
- M = Measurable. There needs to be a measurable way to show you have reached your goals. In the example we see they want to improve by 1 minute and 10 seconds. This is a much better way to write a goal than to just say “I want to be faster this year.”
- A = Achievable. You must be able to achieve your goals. Is 1 minute and 10 seconds an achievable goal? That depends. If this is a 5k race, that may not be achievable. But, if this is an Ironman triathlon that goal is very achievable.
- R = Realistic. Bring common sense into your goals. Saying “I want to win first place in Kona” is probably not a realistic goal. But, saying you want to beat your personal record from last year is very realistic.
- T = Time-related. This criterion really puts focus into your goal because you can then create a deadline to work towards. In the example, you are working toward a particular race rather than just saying “I want to improve my time by 1 minute and 10 seconds.”
Why not set a couple of goals today so you have some targets to aim for in your training this year? Whatever targets you choose, you are sure to add quality to your training experience.