As the 2018 racing season draws to a close here in North America, many athletes are looking towards the future and thinking, “What’s next?” As we enter into “dreaming season,” it’s important for athletes to consider some key things as they decide on their next goals.
There is a bit of a void that exists in the time immediately following a goal race or a race season. It is extremely tempting to just “pull the trigger” on a goal because it sounds fun and amazing, but I’ve found that taking some time for self-reflection on the previous season can go a long way when planning for the next one.
What went well during the past season?
What are you most proud of in the past season?
What could you have done better?
What enabled you to be successful in the past season?
What are your short-term goals (those goals that can be attained in the next 6-12 months).
What are your long-term goals (those that will take at least 1-2 years to attain)?
Actually going through the process of journaling and writing these reflections down can be extremely helpful when looking to map out the road ahead.
When selecting a goal, it’s incredibly important for it to be a goal that lights you up and makes you excited, with focus on the you. Your goals are YOURS, not anyone else’s. Just because a friend sets a particular goal does not mean that it’s the right goal right now for you. As age group athletes (which most of us are), it’s critically important that our goals be ones that excite us. We stay in endurance sports to stay healthy, meet new friends, and have fun. We are spending our hard-earned disposable income and our precious free time (that time that is not dedicated to work or family) doing this, so it’s incredibly important that our goals be close to our hearts and exciting to us.
One of the most important things to consider when selecting a goal is what it will take to get it. Part of this includes honing in your focus. While it is tempting to “do all the things” (i.e. race triathlons, road running races, cycling races, and obstacle races all within the same season), it is impossible to do all of the things and reach your very best at all of them simultaneously. It is possible for you be average, or maybe even do fairly well, at several sports. However, you will never be able to reach your true potential if you are scattering your focus. In my experience as a coach and athlete, I’ve personally been disappointed with my own performances when I’ve tried to do too much, and I’ve seen many athletes have similar experiences.
Including variability in one’s schedule is important, but it’s important that that variability is included in such a way that it is always working towards the major goals that the athlete has set. For instance, for a triathlete seeking to get a new PR in a particular distance or striving to go for a new distance such as IRONMAN, including a lot of mountain biking races in a race schedule won’t necessarily help them reach those goals. Diversity is good, and can help keep athletes engaged in their training and from getting bored. However, too much of it and/or including it at the wrong times can actually prevent athletes from reaching their goals. It’s important to hone in the focus on what is most important to an athlete in a given season, and then to build a schedule that includes other activities and B-Races and C-Races from there.
Your end-of-season reflection can really help you determine where your focus currently lies, and therefore, it can help you decide where you want to go. By taking some time for honest self-reflection and practical goal setting, you will be set up for a great 2019, and perhaps your best season yet. :)
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.