Setting SMART Goals for 2017

Are you thinking about the 2017 Race Season yet?

I know I am!  I’ve got a pretty big race on the radar for July, but I’m keeping it under wraps until it’s officially confirmed.  Since that will involve a trip across the pond (hint!), I’m planning on doing more local, or relatively local races this year that can be done with only a one-night-away-from-home trip OR even better, sleep-in-your-own-bed races!

Here are my tips for setting goals to set yourself up for success.

First… Consider the following question:  What is your motivation for lining up at the starting line? Do you simply want to cross the finish line? Do you have your eye on a specific finish time, or are you looking to set a new personal record (PR)? Do you want to land a podium spot or win the race? Knowing what you want to get out of the race is crucial goal setting.

You’ve probably heard of “SMART” goals, right? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-oriented. To simply say “I want to get faster” is not an example of a good goal. How much faster? Faster in a particular discipline? Do you want to be faster next month, next year or in the next decade?

Here is how to set up a SMART goal for yourself:

Specific: Does your goal apply to a specific distance, particular race or particular discipline?  (Examples: Half marathon, the Philadelphia Olympic Triathlon, or biking abilities – 20 min average power, for example)

Measureable: How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Instead of saying “get faster”, which is very vague, you could say “I want to shave 3 minutes off last year’s 10k triathlon run time” or “I want to finish in the top 10% of my age group”.

Action-oriented: Your goal should have defined actions you can take to get there. “I will run 3 days each week” is an action-oriented goal that you could take in order to reach the above example of taking 3 minutes off a 10k run time.

Realistic: It’s great to shoot for the stars. But, your goal also needs to be realistic; something that with the right attitude, training and execution on race day, is within your grasp. If you ran your personal best-ever 5k of 25:00 in May, then setting a goal of a 19:00 5k in October is not probably realistic for most people (that’s 2 minutes off per mile!). But, an October goal of breaking 24:00 or even 23:00 is probably realistic for many people.

Time-oriented: Put a timeframe on your goal to stay on track. In general, by committing to a race, you’re establishing a time-oriented goal. Example: I want to run a sub-24:00 5k by October.

Goal setting can be tricky – especially if you’re a newer athlete, or if you’re taking on a new distance or a new course for the first time. Looking at past race times and recent workout metrics, as well as the course itself, can help you determine realistic pace and finish goals. Doing some workouts, or segments of workouts, at goal race pace can help you to decide if your goals are realistic. A coach who has access to your training data and recent race or workout paces can be very help with setting realistic goals and recommending pacing strategy for your race.  Want to learn how we can work together to help you reach your goals?  Fill out the contact form on my website to contact me to set up a complimentary phone consultation!

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