Some racers have only one real race goal: to cross the finish line. For them, all it takes is getting in enough swimming, biking and running to make it through the distances. But if you're like me, the goal of adding another T-shirt to your collection won't cut it. You want to finish strong, AND you want to get the most out of the training time you have available. This takes commitment, passion and focused action.
Getting into forward motion toward your goals is the foundation to success in triathlon–or any area of your life for that matter. Identifying your passion and getting to the real truth about yourself (and your self-imposed limitations) is hard, but it pales in comparison to taking action. You'll need a plan of attack to make this work.
Let's get to it.
Step 1: Get Goal Clarity
If you only perform this first step you'll be well ahead of nearly everyone else. What you want to do and why you want to do it is the centerpiece.
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The plan is meaningless without a clear goal. So first things first: you need to nail down your goal and you need be emotionally connected to it. The deeper the emotional connection the better your chances of accomplishing it.
It sounds simple but it's not easy. Say you're passionate about taking on triathlon racing in order to be a role model for your children. Are you committed to using the time you have available? To incorporating smart training, nutrition and recovery strategies? To race full out to your potential? Or will you skimp on your training sessions, continue to eat garbage, and struggle to finish your race by muddling through the swim or shuffling through the run? If you do the latter what are you teaching your kids? Gaining clarity, a vision of where you want to take your triathlon training and racing–and what it means to you–is job one.
Step 2: Identify The Gap
The gap refers to the space between where you are today and where you want to be (that goal you defined above). Once you know where you want to go, and you understand where you're starting from, then the challenge is to close the gap.
The key to gap management is to build positive momentum by measuring progress regularly (time-based testing works best here). To ensure it's positive momentum always, always, always measure backwards. Measure your results based on your performance relative to your previous test, and not on where you hope to be in the future (measuring forward). Measuring forward will just frustrate you. It's like running toward the horizon; no matter how much you run you will never get there.
Step 3: ID Necessary Resources
Make a list of resources available to you so you can clearly identify any limiters you need to address. There are no rules to this list. Here are some examples:
- Available equipment, such as an indoor bike trainer
- Access to swimming facilities
- Access to people/experts, such as a swimming instructor
- Space to train or adequate training routes for cycling and running
- Cash for race fees, lodging, and transportation (this is not a cheap sport)