As one year ends and another begins it’s a perfect time to look forward and outline your sporting ambitions. Whether it be triathlon training or bike racing, creating goals for the year ahead is an important element of any training plan and can be key to a successful season. In this blog we’ll discuss why goals are so useful, how to set fitness goals and what to do to give yourself the best chance of success

Why are goals important for training?

So why exactly are fitness goals important? They enable us to take stock of where we currently are and where we want to go in the future. This long term vision enables shorter term motivation. No matter how much we enjoy doing something there will always be those moments where we ask ourselves “why am I doing this?” Having a clear and well thought out goal is often the perfect answer to this question. Motivating yourself to complete that tough interval session or train when the weather isn’t on your side can be much easier when you know there is a reason behind it.

Setting goals is most effective when they are challenging yet achievable. It’s always good to dream big but be realistic about your capabilities. It can actually be counterproductive to motivation if you set yourself a goal that’s too difficult. If you’re a triathlete, winning the Ironman World Championships is probably unlikely to happen unless you’re already competing with the world’s best. Try to target a PB that will push you in training and on race day. Alternatively, aim for a result in your age group. If you’re struggling with this speaking to a triathlon coach can help.

For the best chance of success you will want to have a long term goal and then a selection of smaller goals to help you achieve it. These could be achievements such as reaching a certain cycling threshold power or smaller ‘micro-goals’ like drinking a certain amount of water every day.

A person in a wetsuit stands in a lake next to a mountain

How to set fitness goals

There are many resources and techniques out there to help you set goals. We especially like the popular method of using the SMARTER acronym to make sure your goals are:

Specific – The more specific and detailed your goals are the more likely you are to complete them. Avoid woolly goals like ‘spend more time cycling’ and instead try ‘cycle 10 hours a week’

Measurable – Rely on hard data to set and measure your goals. Whether it be distance, time, heart rate or power data can be a great motivator.

Achievable – Too hard or too easy and your goals will be demotivating. Entering your local park run might be too easy, getting the course record is likely too hard. Instead try committing to taking part in a set number and improving your time throughout the year.

Relevant – Try to keep your goals relevant to your interests and values. Forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy at all will just serve to demotivate you in the long run.

Time – Make sure you define dates to your goals. If training for a century ride you may have a goal to complete a 75 mile ride beforehand. To really make it stick, have a goal of completing the ride by a certain date before your main event.

Energising – Make sure to set goals that energise, excite and motivate you!

Re-evaluate – Goals don’t have to be completely rigid. Many things will change throughout the year or even throughout a week. This may mean your goals change too. Don’t be afraid to change them where necessary.

How to achieve your fitness goals

If you use this method to set yourself short and long term goals you’ve already given yourself a good chance of success. But how do you give yourself the best chance possible? The first step is to write down your goals and tell someone about them, including your coach. This adds accountability and will give you something to refer back to. It will also help establish your priorities as well as your commitment.

The next step may seem obvious but these goals aren’t going to complete themselves. You are going to need to train smart! Your new goals should motivate you to do the work but the rest is down to you.

a person rides a gravel bike in the countryside

A common trap that many people fall into is failing to monitor their progress. It’s all too easy to set a lofty goal only to be surprised when you fail to achieve it at the end of the season. To reduce the chance of this happening make sure you keep checking in on your goals as you proceed through the year. You can do this in a multitude of ways, either through specific testing or breaking down your goals into smaller chunks. For example if you want to achieve a certain threshold power for your target event make sure you are doing monthly tests to make sure you are on track.

Helping athletes achieve their goals is what we specialise in at Blackzone Coaching. Whether you need assistance in setting out your goals for the year or are a seasoned competitor that needs that expert guidance to increase your chances of success. With a history of coaching all levels from beginners to national and international champions we’re ready for whatever goal you want to tackle. Get in touch with us to learn more.