How to set goals in the off season
I have worked in the Corporate world for around 20 years (God even typing that makes me feel old) and learnt a lot in this time.
When I say a lot – I mean 90% nonsense and probably 10% useful stuff.
My favorite part of Corporate life was the constant slew of new acronyms, that in theory, were meant to speed up communications/decision making. We have all heard them WIP, FIP, WTF, CBT, SLAM, IFP etc and were baffled by them at the start. However before long – you too were using them in everyday conversation and you had been assimilated.
[Fun trick: If you ever want to cause a minor meeting meltdown – stop the meeting organiser mid stream and ask them what the acronym they have used three times in their opening gambit means …. Guarantee it will cause a certain degree of panic followed by a group consensus of nodding heads looking for clarity on the little three lettered bugger]
That said there is one acronym that has made the transfer from my Corporate to my coaching life – SMART. This is because I have found it useful in something I am truly passionate about – Triathlon and setting goals/targets for the upcoming season.
SMART is a model for ensuring that you set good goals for yourself and stands for
- Time bound
So when I sit down with my athletes at the start of the season and I ask them what the goals are – I hold them to this model.
A previous conversation with a client went as follows
Athlete: I want to have a PB session next year Coach
Me: I like it – lets target that but you need to be more specific – what distance are we aiming for – sprint, Oly, HIM or Ironman?
Athlete: Ah yeah good point – you are always so clever coach (ok small ad lib here) – Half Ironman distance – really like that distance …. So yes I want a PB in that….
Me: Ok now your HIM pb is 5:45 – how much of an improvement are we looking for here – would 1 min off that work – would 30 mins work – we need to be more measurable on this
Athlete: Ah yeah good point – I am thinking under 5:15 would be awesome – yes sub 5:15…
Me: Hey I love the energy/drive but we have to make this achievable – you are looking at a approx 10% improvement – this is doable but we will have to change a few things and see where we can find the 30 min
[Sub conversation that I will not bore you with looking at sub goals for swim/cycle/run etc and changes in training to achieve – yada yada]
Athlete: Ok I am down with that – I need to increase my training by X% to get this goal and focus on Y and Z – I am onboard with this – as I have finished the night course, the kids now in school – this is the right time for me to do this – the relevant time
Me: Great stuff – so what race we shooting for? I need a date to make this Time bound
Athlete: Great point Coach – what would I do without you (dum di dum small ad lib again) – ok we are planning a family holiday in Sept – so has to happen before that – how about 70.3 Dublin in August
Me: ok six months out – yes we can go for it!
That was six months ago and having this conversation we went from
“I want to have a PB session next year Coach”
“In 70.3 Dublin on the 20th Aug 2017, we will finish in under 5:15 hours (10% improvement) by shaving 5 mins off swim time, 20 mins off bike split and 6 mins off run split.”
By having a clear set goal – this is what will keep you focused and motivated! Without a clear goal – it is way to easy to give up things get tough training and race wise !
So to summarize, as a coach I recommend you now in Off season –
- Do take time to map out next seasons goal
- Be structured in how you formulate/decide on this goal – or else you will be setting yourself up for failure – SMART is a decent model to use but not the only one
- Make sure you include a plan to monitor/review whether you are on track to achieve the goal
Post script – Athletes finishing time – 5:13 😉
Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 15 years of endurance racing including numerous Ironman finishes (to date).
Realizing this fact, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full time coaching. Steven is now Ironman University, Triathlon Ireland and Training Peaks level 2 certified and specializes in helping time crunched athletes realize their goals.
Browse his pre-built training plans on TrainingPeaks or for more information on personal coaching and custom training plans drop him a note here (he will usually get back to you within a day – he is good like that)