2013 is still 1.5 months away, winter is bearing down on us in the form of chilly days that slip into darkness before 5pm, and I haven't even planned out my full race calendar next year. But that doesn't mean it's too early to think about what I'd like to accomplish next year and begin planning the steps I will need to take to achieve those goals.
Part of my planning will include this: Tri360 is hosting a Big Goals for 2013 Panel this Thursday (11/15) at 6:30pm. The panel will be made up of coaches, amateur, and pro triathletes who will be sharing tips on setting and achieving goals and answering questions. Check out Tri360's Facebook page and add it to your calendar.
One of the things I struggle most with, in terms of setting reasonable goals, is mapping out my race schedule in such a way that I can race at my best each time. Especially with half Ironman and Ironman races, you are only going to find yourself properly tapered and in shape for a peak performance a couple of times a year and I really enjoy racing more than simply a handful of times each year. It's a delicate balance, strategically picking races so you can maximize your performance while minimizing the impact a "B" or "C" race might have on your training for a more important "A" race. It simply boils down to what is more important - filling up your race calendar or racing your absolute best every single time. You can't expect a PR every time if you race every weekend.
Another thing I think about sometimes is how finish-time oriented (or split-time oriented) I want my goals to be. Every race course is different - even the same course could present different challenges each year, making it difficult to make comparisons. What could be considered a slow time on one course would actually be considered a reputable finish time on another course. WHen you take this view, it might be more reasonable to make place-oriented goals instead, as everyone is facing the same factors in that day's swimbikerun. But then it starts to depend on who showed up that day and who decided to sleep in.
Finally, another way to formulate your goals could be oriented towards overcoming challenges. Had a hard time on the run leg each race last year? This year focus on tactics to get you through the run with no walk breaks. Had a nutrition fail on the bike and ruined your big race? Vow to experiment with various kinds of nutrition and figure out what truly works for you by the start of this season. Mentally gave up before the race was over because things didn't feel like they were going your way? Read some books and blogs about sharpening up your mental game and put them into practice during those hard training sessions.
I'm looking forward to learning about what Tri360 panelists do when it comes to setting and achieving goals. I feel like that is one area where constant learning and improvement is definitely possible.