Well, it's the exciting time of the year again to evaluate race performances from 2009 and look forward to the race schedule for 2010. As in all aspects of life, this time of the year allows for an internal reflection of what went right and wrong with the "season".
After selecting the specific races for the coming year, I find it helpful to focus on 1 or 2 "key" races. As many of us have experienced with racing, it becomes very difficult to peak for a multitude of races especially when they are long in duration. Often it's the mental recovery aspects of a tough race that are more difficult to recover as compared to the "physical". The worse case scenerio with respect to racing is having the key "race day" performances occur during a hard training session. We all know but will repeat for everyone "Don't leave your race out on a training run, bike, etc.".
Several few years ago, I experimented with actually writing my goals down in the training log vs. just keeping them in my mind. I was suprised how much the races became part of my subconscious. I am by no means recommending that this is a mandatory exercise, but if your looking for a new approach to goal setting in 2010 give it a try. I have continued to fine tune the goal setting process (yes I am a bit obsessive compulsive as you can tell) and have outlined below. Again, these are just some idea's that might consider with your planning for 2010.
1. I start with the race calendar wish list for the year and pick 3 races per month - this is my master list
2. I then narrow it down to the 2 key races and select other specific races that will provide the greatest benefits to add to the preparation for the key races. For example, next year's big race is the DECA Ironman (continuous version) with very long bike and run sections. Therefore, I plan on targeting a couple 24, 48 hour running and biking races, Double Ironman on similar courses that I will face in Mexico. One thing to consider is how much time is needed for short taper/travel, recovery, etc. to ensure that the race will provide the necessary benefits. I also will add to the schedule some very long key workouts.
3. Next step and a crucial one is to get my lovely wife "aboard" on the travel plans for the year and of course what vacations we can add to the back end of the race.
4. Write of all the goal races into my journal on Jan. 1st.
5. I have created a short word document attached to training log that I update every day after each workout (yes, I am anal) and highlights 4 items: What was the discipline (run, bike, swim, snowshoe, weights, etc.) - how long a duration. What did I do well - 3 items from the workout. What things do I need to improve - 3 items that will have the biggest impact on my key race/races. What did I do to enhance my mental strength - as we all know this item in many races is so crucial.
6. Daily Goal Writing - I write down every day in my journal (compared to just at the beginning of the year) my goals for the season. By writing my goals every day they become embedded in my subconscious. I don't want to preach personal development idea's to everyone (as we all have our own techniques) just some thoughts on what's worked for me. I picture the race mentally and picture it being "perfect". This may sound like a lot, but it's only a couple minutes every day.
We all have different approaches to goal setting and I have found it interesting that the most successful individuals in many sports, business, etc. not only mentally know their goals, but actually write them on paper. Happy goal setting to everyone!