Triathletes: How to Plan a Realistic New Year's Resolution

At the beginning of every year lots of triathletes set "resolutions," or goals. These resolutions often have something to do with setting a PR or finishing a particular event. Some are realistic and others...not so much. Health clubs are always packed during January and February, but by March it's no longer difficult to find a parking spot.

Many New Year's resolutions are short lived, in part because individual goals aren't planned out with a path that leads to success. Instead of having the best intentions to accomplish a goal, let's look at three key elements needed to stay on track to make the change you desire.

More: 7 Pitfalls to Avoid When Setting Goals

Set Goals...and Write Them Down

According to a study done at Virginia Tech University, 80 percent of Americans don't have goals. Only 16 percent have goals, and less than 4 percent actually write those goals down. Those who establish goals and write them down are more likely to accomplish them.

Once you write your goals down it becomes a written contract to yourself. It frees your mind of having to remember what you set out to accomplish and helps to define what your goals are.

When you write your goals down, make sure you add as much detail as possible, describe exactly what you want to achieve and explain how you're going to do it. If your plan is to finish you next marathon in a specific time, you could write your goal like this: "I'm going to race an Ironman in September and finish under 14 hours. I will have to run at a 10-minute per mile pace during the run to reach this goal."

More: How to Set Realistic Time Goals

Also, don't forget to set a deadline (and be realistic with a date). For example, if you've never run further then 1 mile, maybe you should set your sight on finishing a 5K before setting your sights on an Olympic-distance triathlon. Stretch goals are OK and are even encouraged as long as you have the right mindset. Don't set yourself up for disappointment.

After you write your goals down, it's important to put them some place where you will see them every day. Putting them in multiple places is an effective way to keep yourself on track. Some of my favorite places to post my goals include on the bathroom mirror, my computer, the dashboard in my car and on my alarm clock.

Accountability

Many people feel they're at their best and accomplish the most when they're held accountable. Is someone holding you accountable for your goals?

More: 6 Reasons Sprint Triathlons are a Good Prep for Longer Races

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