I want to expand on Slayer’s comments about going APE and talk a little about planning.
It’s very important to have a plan for any endeavor and endurance sports such as triathlon will be more successful with a solid plan. Most plans usually start out with an idea and a vague sense of how to attain the idea, but it needs a more deliberate thought than saying, “I want to complete a triathlon.”
Planning involves very specific items to ensure success. Planning includes goal setting and an effective goal setting technique is the SMART one.
SMART is a mnemonic for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed.
Goals should be straightforward and clearly define what you want to accomplish. In addition to the main goal, there should also be smaller goals placed throughout your plan to use as mile stones and achievements to keep you motivated as you strive for the big goal. The SMART method can be used for any life application from learning to play an instrument to getting a new career. Today, I will discuss using the SMART method for triathlon.
Instead of saying you have a goal to get in shape to complete a triathlon, make that goal specific to a particular race distance, location and date. An example of being specific is, “I will train for three months to complete the Langley Pond Sprint Triathlon set for April 2013 in Aiken SC.” Being specific makes the goal very real to yourself and to others with whom you share it.
Setting goals gives you long term vision and measurable milestones along the way will keep you motivated. Your goal of training for three months and completing this sprint triathlon in April 2013 is measurable because time will continue to tick toward that date. Also, successful goal attainment is enhanced when you can specifically measure your progress. For example, you will be training over three months and in those three months you should have fitness tests or some other marker to verify you are making progress in getting more endurance.
Or, action oriented is next in the SMART way of goal setting. Determining a goal and committing to it puts your actions in motion to attain that goal. You will identify ways to achieving the goal and those ways will become priorities. Attitudes, abilities and skills will be developed to get you to your goal. You also want to be positive in your thoughts and self talk about the goal. Say to yourself, “I will have a great swim session,” instead of, “This swim workout will suck because I’m not a swimmer.” See yourself achieving the goal.
It’s important to make the goal realistic. While you don’t want to make the goal so easy that it takes minimal effort to achieve, you also don’t want to make it so difficult you fail. If you have never swum beyond the length of a pool or ran more than across the yard, setting a goal for a half iron distance tri in three months may not be attainable whereas a sprint tri is more realistic. Your goal needs to be high enough where it requires effort but realistic given your current fitness level and available time to train.
This is the endpoint of your goal. In our example, the timed or timeliness of the goal is three months. Setting a time to attain the goal gives you a clear target towards which to work. A goal without a specific end time is too vague and does not create urgency to get the job done.
There it is. To go APE you must be SMART and the coaches at www.tricoachgeorgia.com use this method in our own training and we will use it in planning your training to help you determine and achieve your goals!