Reaching Your Goals
I talked a little in the last few months about the importance of goal setting, mental preparation and looking at more than just your physical training to complete the package for your A races.
Most of us are quickly approaching the race season. You may be planning a good training camp or may have already attended one in preparation for your race season. Everybody goes to camps for different reasons. Some want to get out on the road after a long winter. Some want to expose themselves to a more challenging environment with their peers to see where they are at. Some simply want to get away and spend a week with no other worry than training. These are all great reasons to be at a camp.
I just had the great pleasure of spending a three week camp with a group of very good professionals and then backed that up with the weeklong EC camp where I was able to share my experience and be a coach.
One thing I know is you never really know what a person’s goals are when they come to a camp. It’s best to focus on yourself (when you are a camper) and get the most out of the camp that you can.
This is where I want to share with you a conversation I had with one of my good friends at the EC camp. I use the camps for many different reasons, but one great thing is you get to surround yourself with peers you respect who are growing and learning with you.
We started talking about what you do when you reach your goals and what a good coach’s job is when an athlete reaches his or her goals.
The single most important lesson I’ve learned over 23 years of elite sport is to always focus on the process. As soon as athletes become results-driven, they start to make decisions that ultimately send them further away from their actual goals.
I’ll give you a personal example.
I won my very second ironman ever. That was totally unexpected. I had the goal of “one day” winning one, but never thought it would happen like that. While it was amazing I wasn’t really ready to achieve such a big goal so quickly. You would think all is good, right? Well, yes, and no.
What I know now, and wish I had been advised differently then, was from there it became all about results. I started to focus solely on race results. It became very important to me to be on the podium in every race. And, I did achieve that for a period of time. But what it also did was drove me to make poor choices, train in ways that in the end pushed me further from my goals. I lost the enjoyment and the love for plain old swim, bike and run. I became all about the outcome, which is the one thing I had no control over.
You have no control over other racers and results. You do have control over what you do to continue to personally improve. You can make choices in training and racing that put you in a position to win (or achieve your goal).
Some will say you should visualize yourself winning. I can remember a half IM I really wanted to win. I visualized myself running across the line in first for days leading into the race. Then, on race day, I made bad choices during the race because I was so focused on winning and not on what I needed to do to win.
I learned! The next year I went back and didn’t think about winning it. Instead, I focused on what I needed to do to have my very best day every step of the way. And yes, then I won the race. Funny how that works.
Stay in the now. Control what you can control. Put yourself in a position to achieve your goals. Focus on the process of excellence, not the result of being excellent.
And… then… that’s when all your dreams come true!