Melanie McQuaid knows triathlon inside out. She’s dominated Xterra for years and more recently she’s added the 70.3 distance to that domination. She’s one tough chick with an incredible wealth of knowledge and a contagious passion for the sport. Here’s the first of her regular blog posts for Triathlon Magazine Canada. Stay tuned!
SMART Goal Setting
After the race season is a good time to take a break from the rigors of training, travelling and maintaining race focus. Once you have put some distance between what you have accomplished in the past season you can then re-evaluate your successes and dream up what you want to do next.
When thinking about your goals, refer to them in the present tense (ie: I am running a 37 min 10 km). The language you use can help make it real. Believing you can achieve what you have set out to do is a big part of the challenge.
Next you should use the SMART approach to goal setting. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Specific means the goal is clear and detailed. Use who, what, where, when and why to describe in detail exactly what it is you are planning. What do I want to achieve and why? Who do I need to help me achieve this? Where are the races I am doing? When are the dates?
Measurable goals allow you to determine when you have achieved it. You need to know how to be sure that you have reached your goal, so make it measurable. If your goal is the improve your 10 km or 21 km time, be specific about whether it would be off the bike or in a run race and then set exactly what the splits need to be.
Attainable means that although you want to dream big in setting goals, you want them to be within the confines of reality. Setting challenging but attainable goals is the best approach. Are your goals within reach?
Relevant ensures that your goal is meaningful to you. This is when you ask yourself, “Why do I want to do this?” You should be able to come up with a strong answer to that question.
Timely means you need to set a time-frame within which this goal needs to be accomplished. Generally you need to plan the steps you are taking towards that goal and how much time it takes for each step. Also, having a deadline creates an urgency that can maintain focus and commitment. Give yourself a time-frame that is reasonable but still has a limit.
Part of moving forward with new goals is establishing what your core values are and using those values to further justify the time, effort and commitment you have to the sport. Sometimes your reasons have to be bigger than accomplishment alone. Instead, participation can be part of your values and therefore fit into the overall view of how you want to spend your life.
Happy goal setting! I will go over how to narrow your focus on these goals in another post.