Goals are an important part of moving forward. They let you know when you have achieved something that you set out to do. They can motivate you to get out of bed when the rooster hasn't even gotten out of bed yet. Without a doubt they have a place in the triathletes bag of tricks. But they come with a catch. Many people tend to think of success as achieving your goals. But what happens if you dedicate 3 months of your life to hitting that 'special' time in a race, and on race day miss it? What happens if you get sick and miss the race altogether? What happens if your goal is to race Noosa next year but it sells out in 5 minutes before you have a chance to even log in? Does that mean you've failed?
Don't get me wrong - taking the time to set and work towards goals is something I think is really important. In fact, my coach and I are putting some time in at the moment to work out what I want to achieve over the next 12 months. But, I think success can be measured another way. I think it is just as (if not more) important to be living by what drives you, what you value. For example, rather than focusing on the goal of knocking out 12 sessions in a week, ask yourself how your training goals match who you want to be. Is it important for you to be focused? Competitive? To enjoy the moment? These qualities of action are things you can do right now. You can be focused in today's track session. You can train with the competitive drive to beat 'that guy' in the next race. You can enjoy the moment by riding a bike that is hooked up to a blender to blend your own smoothie. Which means you can be successful right now even though your goals might be a long way off. The key is to bring both goals and values together. Consider this, if you value being fair in your relationships yet you are trying to fit in training sessions morning and night and not leaving time for your partner, at some stage one of you are going to crack. Your motivation to train will be impacted and in the end; you'll stop enjoying triathlons (or you'll have all time time you want to train as a single person!). But, if you can match who you want to be with your goals, then you can conquer the world. Guaranteed life will be richer and you'll be happier, and we all know when we're happier we are more energetic and more likely to train. For example, if being determined is important to you as a person you can act in ways to be this person. You can hit that early morning training session even though it is raining. In doing so it'll fill your day with meaning and a smile. How do you know what you value? One way to start thinking about it is this; imagine it is your 80th birthday and there are 3 people are giving speeches about who you are and what you have stood for. In the IDEAL world, what would you like them to say?
You may be thinking, this sounds like taking life very seriously so how does the title of this blog fit in? True, this idea of living by your values sounds pretty serious. But I think once you have started to refocus the way you assess your 'success', to become more aware of who you want to be, then it becomes less effort. Less stressed about what you want to do and more in touch with the now. And more fun. Richer, yet less critical of not reaching that 'key' time. Noosa reminded me of this. I finished 6th, yet in my mind wanted to finish top 5. 4 minutes faster than last year yet still a part of me was disappointed. Ridiculous, right? Once I reminded myself of the way I dedicated my time to training, had been respectful of my relationship, had focused on the 'one percenters' I remembered that "we're not racing for sheep stations". I'm still me and that's enough. Although I still want to beat Matty Breakspear and BD!
Not long now until it's time to strap in for Battlestations Robina. It's a pretty good course for the strong biker and runner I think. The bike course is a L-shape that gives you plenty of opportunity to get into a nice time-trial position on your aero bars (if you have them). Fairly flat, a slight incline in one part but nothing too strenuous. For that edge over your competitors prepare to give that power-push out of the turnaround points. If you've got time in training sessions this week (ideally on a wind-trainer) try including 3 - 5, 15 second HARD efforts (heavy gear high cadence) with a minute or so rest. This will stimulate a different energy system that provides you with that powerful push.
The swim is easy to navigate for those who have some trouble sighting in open water. A square shape with buoys that are easy to see. Again, in training this week try including a few laps of the pool that include some efforts with your head looking forward (for example, 4 x 50m easy alternating 8 strokes normal, 8 strokes head looking at the end of the pool).
I remember last year in the run it felt like it went on FOR AGES. Find a way to distract yourself is my advice! And hydrate. Last year it was a scorcher at Robina. Make the most of your time on the bike to get those much needed fluids into your system. If you are new to triathlons, I think it is important to try to limit your fluid intake in the last 5 - 10 minutes before you get off the bike and onto the run. Otherwise you may find yourself with a belly full of fluid slooshing around - not fun, trust me!
Training wise try to taper off towards the end of the week. Having raced Noosa just over a week ago makes the lead up interesting for me. I haven't got the post-hard-race process down pat so I have been fighting off a bit of a cold since Noosa. My immune system took a hiding and rather than refuel properly I got swept up in the Noosa party festivities. I blame Paul T aka Rubio. But that's another story. So a few swims last week and my first ride / run a full 7 days after the race. This week I'm not rushing it as I still feel rundown. My general approach though pre-race is to have a good stretch and massage (if available) on the Friday before the race, then a general run through of something on the Saturday. This time around I'll have a swim. This is important, and I know some people have the day off 'to refresh'. Physiologically, I think it is important to do some form of activity that makes your body go "he's doing it again, we'd better refuel those muscles to prepare". That way your muscles are filled up with the energy and nutrients you'll need when you are standing on the start line the next day.
Good luck guys. Remember, be who you want to be first and the rest will follow.