Goal Setting in Triathlon – Why and How?

Goal setting can be a powerful part of success in any area of life, and triathlon is no exception. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional athlete, having clear goals and a plan to achieve them is essential to reach your full potential. Through-out my professional and sporting career, I’ve utilized goal setting to help maximize my personal performance by measuring success consistently and maintaining motivation throughout a long training block.

Why is goal setting important?

  1. Provides direction: Goals give you a clear direction to follow, which helps you to focus your efforts and stay motivated.
  2. Increases motivation: Training for an Ironman can take 9-12 months, when you have a clear goal in mind, you’re more likely to stay motivated and keep pushing yourself to improve.
  3. Measures progress: Setting measurable goals allows you to track your progress and see how far you’ve come.
  4. Helps with planning: Setting goals helps you to create a plan of action and make better decisions about how to use your time and resources.
  5. Boosts confidence: Achieving your goals can boost your confidence and give you a sense of accomplishment, which can help you perform better in future competitions.
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Keep your feet on the ground. 

Before you set any goals, sit down with your coach and/or family to discuss between you. Are these goals realistic? Is the training load manageable? Can I put in the time, while maintaining a healthy balance?

I remember messaging my coach – “You reckon we can drop 30 minutes in 6 months?”. This might sound like a simple question, but lots of factors have to be considered. Race conditions, course, current fitness levels, training volume etc. He’s a simple bloke, a reply of “doable” is enough for me. A Coach who matches your ambition is important, as they will buy into the goals and push you to succeed. 

Your coach can keep you level headed, building these goals into training plans and help you reassess when things go wrong. Injuries and life can easily throw a spanner in the works, and regular catch ups to re-evaluate and most importantly, Celebrate wins! 

My Tips for setting effective goals in sports:

  1. Make them specific: The more specific your goals are, the easier it will be to create a plan to achieve them. For example, instead of setting a goal to “get better at running,” set a goal to “Finish a 10km run.”
  2. Make them measurable: Measurable goals allow you to track your progress and adjust your efforts accordingly. Use numbers and specific metrics to track your progress, such as “run a mile in under 7 minutes.”
  3. Make them realistic: Setting unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and disappointment. Goals need to be terrifying but achievable, based on your current abilities and the time and resources you have available.
  4. Make them time-bound: Setting a deadline for your goals can help to create a sense of urgency and motivate you to work harder. For example, “run a 10k race in under an hour by the end of the year.”
  5. Write them down: Writing goals down can help to solidify them in your mind and increase your commitment to achieving them. I keep my goals in a visible place, on white board in the pain cave, to remind myself of them regularly.
  6. Review and adjust them regularly: Goals should be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. Regularly review your goals and adjust them as needed based on your progress and new challenges that arise.
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By Tom Higgs

Posted on 29th Mar 2023