Guest Post: The Big Fat Goal (by @AliceH82)

Our sponsored athlete Alice Hector @AliceH82 is a pro triathlete, and returns with a guest blog for the new year on the topical but sometimes difficult subject of Motivation. Alice’s personal website is alicetri.com.

So you want to get fit in the New Year? In the first few weeks, it’s easy enough to get out there, but when the novelty of exercise wears off, it’s important to have a Big Fat Goal in your head that answers that inevitable question, “why am I doing this?”

Setting your own personal targets is vital if you want to improve. If you don’t set your Big Fat Goal early on, you may find you lose your sense of purpose, and it’ll be harder to keep going.

Alice: I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn’t matter
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.

Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland

No direction leads to confusion and procrastination. You may get there in the end, but it’ll be a slower process full of diversions, stops and u-turns. In the gym or out on the open road, the aim has to get the most out each time. A focussed approach will get you there.

You need your Big Fat Goal but you also need a process in place to get you there: a series of mini-goals. There are a few simple considerations to make when deciding what you’ll go for and how you’ll do it.

Specific: Make your goals specific to you. Think about what will make you happy, never mind what your peer group is doing, and then do a bit of research as to how to best use your training time.

Measurable: How will you determine if you are on your way to success? You need some markers to aim for. For instance, if your 5k time is currently 31 minutes then a sub 30 minutes would be a great goal, and a simple way to monitor fitness gains. If you are looking to lose weight, it’s a great idea to focus on something like this too, rather than the weight itself. That way, you get fitter, feel better, and the weight will shift naturally: a far more positive experience.

Agreed: Talk to an experienced coach or trainer about what’s realistic for you. You can then base your training specifically around achieving your targets. Talk to your family and friends too so they know what you’re trying to do. If you have support, motivation will be at its highest, ensuring you keep coming back for more.

Realistic: Another important aspect of goal setting is to make your mission challenging but ultimately achievable. For example, if you’re like me and can barely touch your toes aged 33, it’s highly improbable you will be an Olympic gymnast by the time the year’s out.

A lot of people get sucked into setting goals based upon finish position: ‘to be top 3’ or ‘not to be last’. Setting and achieving goals needs to be under your control. Other people are out of your control. This is where a personal best is a far preferable objective.

Time-phased: Say your sub 30 minute 5k is a short-term goal, and is achieved within 3 months; what next? You need a ‘ladder of success’. Establish small goals to tick off along the way to your BFG. You may want to follow your 5k with another faster one, or successfully complete a 10km event. After that? In the back of your head, you need something grand that makes you a bit scared (and perhaps have other people thinking you are a little crazy).

Exciting: There’s no point in setting something you 100% know you can do, or something that’s going to be too easy. It’s just not challenging enough. Push yourself in order to get the most out: it’s far more rewarding than a softly-softly approach. Realistic yes, but you can still aim high… Everyone is capable of great things. Obviously you have to take baby steps to get there, so starting on the bottom rung of your ladder is always advised.

 Quite simply: What target would you set yourself if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Recorded: Goals need to be written down as soon as possible, so you can use this as a reference point during the year when the going inevitably gets tough! Keep a training diary too so you can look back and see your progress, for when you have a bad day or lose sight of why you started. If you do get a niggle or a setback, you can read your diary and usually it’s easy to see where you went wrong.

How do you choose your Big Fat Goal? Look on the EntryCentral website http://www.entrycentral.com/ for links to hundreds of events of all different shapes and sizes, from running to cycling and multi-sport.

Alice Hector

Our sponsored athlete Alice Hector

About Ian McLaughlin

Software engineer, has-been triathlete

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