by Ed Shepherd
Welcome to the 2014 race season. You may not have a race for several more months, but what you do now will determine how well you do later. Yes... like everyone else you are working out. You are swimming, running, biking, weight lifting, cross-training or whatever it is you are doing right now in order to prepare. But my question to you is Prepare for What?
I talk with a lot of athletes that do a lot of working out and work really hard, but come race day all of their hard work seems to not pay off. The reason in most cases is due to a lack of planning that leads to more purposeful training. All athletes know how to workout, but not a lot of athletes know how to train. There is a difference. Workouts are something that can be done by anyone... Training is a workout that has a purpose not just for that day but is part of a bigger plan set in motion in order to reach a goal. By setting concrete goals for your race season you can then start making real plans on how to achieve that goal. After you make plans now comes the hard part of doing the right work to achieve the goal no matter how hard it may seem. Remember your goal is bigger than just one workout and the payoff will be worth doing the right work no matter how much you dislike it. By sticking to your plan to reach your goal you will be more satisfied with your outcome. I am not saying that you will necessarily even achieve your whole goal, but what I am saying is you will be a much better athlete no matter what the outcome is.
Now is the time for you to get your goal on paper, make your plan, and start believing in your ability. The reason why most people never reach their goal is because they don't take the time early on to define it. Even worse, those that do take the time don't take their goals seriously or don't view them as absolutely achievable. Winners can tell you about their goals because it is all they think about... actually obsess about. They love to talk about it- where they are going, how they are going to get there, and what they plan on doing each day along the way. The constant talking about their goals is not so much a cockiness, but a repeated mindset that is done to remind themselves why they are doing all of this hard work in the first place. The same should go for you as well. Set a goal and keep it stuck in your head as more than just a dream, but rather more like a future reality to get excited about. You don't have to have a goal of winning a national championship. It just has to be something that is meaningful to you, such as placing in your age group in a race you enjoyed doing last year.
If you are looking for help on putting all of this into play there are tons of books, internet sites, and articles available to help you. Through the power of Google and some key word searches you can find just about anything. There are tons of resources available if you are willing to seek them out. I personally use "The Triathlete's Training Bible" by Joe Friel as well as have coaches to help me with my running and swimming. Setting goals is so important you should use any available resources you can in order to try your best to get it right. By getting a goal and sticking with your plan to achieve it you will have a great 2014 season!