The first step in goal setting is to outline your Outcome Goals for the season. These set out the desired performance result (see SMART goal setting). If the Outcome Goals are broken down into a series of steps, then the journey towards success is mapped out in a clearly defined and measurable manner. In that way, even if race day doesn’t end up as planned due to unforeseen factors then there can be a lot of satisfaction in going through the process and knowing that there has been improvement.
Setting Process Goals is the second step in goal setting. These goals should reflect controllable development of fitness, strategy or skills on a shorter timeline. By focusing on improving these aspects of your racing you can map the route to achieving your Outcome Goals. To establish a Process Goal you must first set out the timeline for your Outcome Goal. Next, break this timeline down into smaller objectives with associated dates that lead you in a focused and purposeful way to the date you plan to achieve your Outcome Goal. For instance, if your outcome goal is to run 10 minutes faster for the run in a half distance race in July and you begin training in January, you have a timeline of seven months to work with. Some ideas on how to break that Outcome Goal into Process Goals might look like the following. Keep in mind, these are goals to focus your running objectives within your overall run training program. On their own, Process Goals are not the training. They are simply goals that allow you to monitor and focus your training to maximize your potential success in achieving the stated Outcome Goal.
Here is an example:
January – Build hip strength and stability through a focused strength program. Get up to three sets of ten one leg squats.
February – Complete a six-week technical running course to maximize efficiency. See improvement in video by end of course.
March – Build up tempo running at goal pace. Be able to run 30 minutes at goal pace comfortably by end of April.
April – Start working on mental approach in training. Focus on thoughts during hard workouts and how to turn them to positive affirmations. Test this on tough workout days.
May – Incorporate tempo runs at goal pace with bike workouts. Complete 30 minutes at goal pace off the bike by the end of May.
June – Run a time-trial at slightly faster than goal “off the bike” pace for 21km as a negative split.
July – Fine-tune mental approach. Attempt your Outcome Goal at your key race.
Good luck and Happy Training!