Mental Strategies Part III
What is a “Good” Time? Goal Setting 101!
7:05:28! Be honest in your head as you read this now…Is this a “good” ½ Ironman time? I want you to think about your reasoning and why you answered what you did…Seriously, is this a “good” time?
How many times as coaches do we hear…What was your time? If I can’t do a sub 2:00 hour run off the bike that isn’t very good? Is a 3 hour ½ Ironman time a good bike? Wow, he/she did a 3:30 bike…what happened??
I hear y’all might like to hear what we’re thinking as coaches…here my thoughts on the above “good” time and goal setting. So, did the above athlete achieve their goal? Goals are one of the hottest topics amongst sports psychologists, but what is goal setting and what are goals? I like to think of goals as the intended destination on a long journey. We all know that I love to travel, right?? Goal setting for you, as an athlete, is an important skill that can help you achieve optimal performance. The goal setting process should help you understand where you are and where you want to go, thus focusing on the process and performance rather than on the outcome. However, as a group of athletes we tend to be so focused on time goals and this can often work against us. Time goals and placement goals within your age-group are outcome goals and are dependent on so many variables, often ones that we can’t control; Mechanical issues, weather, course condition, other athletes who are racing, just to name a few. Performance goals, on the other hand, are related to various statistics that can help you improve at what you are trying to do. These would include holding a certain wattage on the bike, running a certain pace, swimming at a certain effort, or even goals like following your racing plan, nutrition plan and just telling yourself to be tough!!! Performance goals can be both long term for an entire race year and/or be adjusted accordingly for the race at hand.
I firmly believe that working with your coach can enable you to set realistic and achievable goals. By hitting your performance goals the outcome goals will come back to you. However, as athletes we tend to be most upset by not meeting our desired outcome when in fact the outcome are often very much dependent on outside factors. Focus on the targets and the objectives and the things that are in your control on race day. Think, I am racing tough…Think I am executing my race plan…Think, I am hitting my target race pace and not going out too fast. Let the outcome fall as it may, but know that you accomplished specific and measurable performance goals and that will make you a stronger athlete for the future.
I encourage athletes to send me their goals at the beginning of the year, for racing and training. Often when I see certain “times” or outcomes listed, I delve deeper into those and discuss how we are going to get there and we set certain smaller goals along the way which will allow us to adapt what they might be thinking for a certain outcome.
So, back to the “fictional” or “not so fictional” athlete above… The above 7:05:28 was done by an athlete that has race 23 ½ Ironman/iron distance events with a PR of 5:27. Looking at that you might think that wasn’t a “good” time. I beg to differ. That was me, 2011 Buffalo Springs 70.3. The second hottest ½ Ironman on record and it hit 110 degrees on the run that day; over a 20% DNF rate 12 athletes carried to the hospital while the remaining were in the medical tent. Performance goals came down to swimming strong and holding the pace I had trained…Getting in with a pack of women during the swim. Holding a steady pace on the bike and watching hydration and nutrition on the run in order to finish the race. I had my ½ Ironman PR swim there of 36:36 and I haven’t been able to duplicate that since. I take Buffalo Springs 70.3 as a win
Coach Sami: firstname.lastname@example.org