December 18, 2017 - The new year is right around the corner. Many of us make radical new years resolutions, many of which involve getting fit or completing your first marathon / triathlon. All too often we start these endeavors with great zeal, only to lose steam and fall back into our old habits. So the question remains; how to we set realistic goals and then create a plan to reach them?
Setting realistic goals is the hardest part. As athletes we are by nature ambitious and competitive people. We strive for the absolute best, sometimes at the expense of our bodies. Setting goals is really about taking an inventory of your available time and mental energy. Say you want to train for a marathon. Great. Do you have the time needed each week to put in adequate training time? Maybe you plan on dedicating 10 hours a week to training, but then you find yourself without time to cook or take care of family. Then this is not a sustainable or realistic goal.
Another pitfall of goal setting is choosing an end number. What I mean by this is for example, “I want cut 30 minutes off my race time.” Don’t get me wrong, goals like this are great, write them down. The pitfall exists in the sense that you choose a number without any idea as to how to get there. Instead of cutting 30 mins off your race time, perhaps the goal should be not to miss any of your weekend training sessions this year. Or if you wanted to lose 20 pounds and you normally eat dessert 5 nights a week, cut it down to 4 nights a week, then to 3 nights a week.. until you no longer crave that dessert. The process in which you are going to attain that number should really be the goal you are focusing on.
Now that you have some goals and plans established, you are good to go right? Not so fast. We all know that life can and will throw a wrench into your best laid plans. We all have those days where work keeps us longer than expected and the last thing we want to do is get that training session in. Next thing you know, that one missed training session turns into 2…3 until you are consistently skipping sessions. The key here is accountability. Having a training group or partners that are on similar schedule or have similar goals is vital. These people will keep tabs on you, and give you hell when they catch you slipping or slacking off. Having this sort of accountability will really help keep you on track.
The only thing better than a training partner is a coach. Hiring a coach may seem intimidating or you may feel like you just don’t need it. However, the impact a coach can have is largely underrated. Having someone who is creating a program and daily workouts for you really takes the stress out of your day. It is much harder to show up to swim and come up with your own workout, than it is to have someone telling you what to do. It takes the guess work and the extra time spent figuring out what you should be doing. The coach’s only job is to help you get to your end goal, through meticulous planning and programming. Its like going to a physical therapist. Sure you could google your symptoms and try to create your own rehab program…but come on, we all know that it is much more effective to just go to the physical therapist. A trained professional who’s only job is to guide you along your way to achieving your goals is your ultimate weapon.