Here's why. Several seasons ago, my winter focus was to improve my bike split, reasoning that this would propel me into the upper echelons of my age group. I realized significant gains in my personal times. But some of my competition had set a similar bike split goal. As a result, my overall standing in my age group didn't improve as significantly as I had hoped.
The important lesson here is: you can only control yourself. The reality is that my goal-setting resulted in appreciable improvements in my personal performance, which will bear even more fruit in the years to come.
Make Goals That Keep You Focused
Just as races can be won or lost somewhere on the hills or windy flats in the middle of the competition, so seasons are made or broken in the specific daily workouts leading up to them. Because we don't all have endless hours to focus on training, it's important that we set goals to keep us focused, so that we use our limited time more productively.
Any time that you can spend looking back and analyzing this past season will be valuable as you plan for 2014.
First, determine where you are today. Then decide what kind of goal you want. There are different types of goals you can set: performance-based, practice-oriented, long-term or short-term, physical and psychological. All of these types of goals help you design your training and racing schedule for the next season.
Below is a list of principles originally outlined in Robert Weinberg's and David Gould's book Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, to help you set your goals and get you on the road to a successful and purposeful season.
9 Goal-Setting Principles
1. Set specific goals
Setting specific goals is more beneficial than setting general ones. Instead of deciding to "do your best" on the 40K bike-leg of a triathlon, set a more specific goal such as improving your best 40K bike time by three minutes.
When setting specific goals, it's important that they are measurable and can be explained in behavioral terms such as working on pedaling technique in the off-season.