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What do you hope to accomplish with your training over the next six months? Goal setting is a key ingredient for consistent improvement in triathlon. Too many individuals do not look past their next workout or upcoming race. Without direction, your training sessions are completed haphazardly, leading to inconsistent race performances. Effective goals are accomplished by using the acronym SMART: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time.
Specific—determine what it is you really want to achieve in the upcoming race season and why. Typically, you should have 3 specific long term goals for the season. One example of a long term goal may be to complete the California Half Ironman. Now you must develop goals in the short term to allow completion of this half ironman.
Measurable--- This determines if you have met your goals. Measurable short-term goals are used to reach the longer term goals. Setting a goal of finishing an olympic-distance triathlon by the end of summer is a measurable goal used to prepare for the half ironman at the end of your season. You can add specificity to this goal by including the name of your target race.
Action-oriented--- How do you plan to achieve your goals? Take action by planning the types of workouts (milestones) you must complete to successfully attain your goals. How often is it necessary to swim, bike, and run each week to make your goal(s) a reality? Maybe you should begin strength training, for instance, to gain strength on the bike portion of this race.
Realistic—Of course the goals you set must be achievable. For instance, it is unrealistic to set a goal of winning your age group, especially if this is your first race. There is a balance between setting challenging goals that are realistic, and unrealistic goals which only lead to frustration and discouragement.
Time--- Goals must have deadlines. It could be a month, 6 months, or even a year, but there needs to be a definite date set for the attainment of your goals. Be sure to put your goals down on paper and place them in areas where they are visible. This reminds you of the goal and the commitment needed to make the goal a reality.