April 24th, 2016 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

It’s that time of the year when most athletes will sit down to write goals for the next year. The first step in the process should be to take a look back at the season that just ended and analyze what worked and what didn’t work. You should have a good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses were. Most athletes mistakenly think that improving their biking ability, even if that is their strength, is the easiest way for them to improve their overall time. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Of course coaching can help prevent this situation because they will ensure you work to improve your weakest of the disciplines.

Goals should be process focused and not outcome focused. A good goal should not be impacted by external factors. No one has control over a goal that can be determined by weather or who is competing in the race. An example of a good race goal is patience. This could mean that you will focus on appropriately pacing yourself during the first half of an ironman bike, even when all your competitors are flying by.

After you create a list of possible races and have thought about some realistic but challenging goals then you can start putting together the specific steps you will take to achieve this. If your overall goal is to improve your half iron time by 15 minutes then you need to determine what you need to work on in the off season to accomplish this. This might mean early morning strength sessions, increasing your swim frequency in December and January, or training with a power meter to better realize gains on the bike.

Most importantly write the goals down! Writing goals down forces you to clearly define and clarify them. According to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, 80% of Americans don’t have goals, 16% do have goals, but don’t write them down and less than 1% actually review them on an ongoing basis. Actually putting the goals onto paper and reviewing them at least quarterly will help you accomplish new levels of success in the upcoming season.