Coach Tip Tuesday is here again!!
With the end of the calendar year fast approaching, most athletes in the Northern Hemisphere are in their off-seasons. As I’ve talked about before, the off-season is effectively a dreaming season, where one looks to the future and starts to plan goals and lay the groundwork to turn dreams into realities. This week we’re going to talk about an aspect of goal setting: thinking long-range.
One of the things I see most frequently as a coach is goal setting that is very focused on imminent results. Athletes are not immune to this world of impulsiveness where attention spans are decreasing by the day. Athletes want results, and they want them NOW. Over the years, I’ve seen this manifest in a number of ways: athletes getting caught up in “sign-up fever” where they sign up for event along with many of their friends or immediately following that year’s edition of the event (I see this most often with IRONMAN-distance races); athletes trying for a personal best time at an event before they’re sufficiently recovered from their last goal race; athletes setting unrealistic goals given their current fitness levels.
While the mind is a very powerful tool, not ALL things can be successful with a “mind over matter” mindset, and it’s important to consider realistic goal setting when planning a season out. The reality is that some goals will be achievable in a current season, and others may need to wait a bit, no badly how much you may want to achieve them now. For instance, if you’re a very weak swimmer and you’ve never done a triathlon but have aspirations of being an IRONMAN, you may need to “settle” for the goal of completing your first triathlon and gaining proficiency in the sport before taking on IRONMAN in a season or two.
Rushing to goals or attempting things before you’re truly ready may end in a result that isn’t to your liking. Worse yet, it could lead to injury and set you even further back from your goal. Now, don’t misinterpret what I’m saying and think I’m telling you all that you can’t or shouldn’t dream big. What I’m saying is DREAM BIG, but do so with a realistic timeline to give yourselves the best chances possible at smashing your goals. Along the way to the BIG goals, set intermediate goals for yourself so you can still feel the joy of reaching a goal. And more importantly, those intermediate goals can help you determine if you’re on track for your BIG goal.
Goal setting is not only identifying the goal, but also includes outlining the path that will successfully lead to the goal. A good coach can assist in this process, and provide some valuable feedback in terms of long-range goal planning. And since a good coach will want to set you up for the best chance of success, that feedback may include honest advice about the timing of goals.
If you have questions about this process, or need some honest feedback, you know where to find me. Dream big, my friends. :)