Goal Setting – What Makes It Work?..

Well here we go, it’s that time of year again where you’re likely thinking about what 2022 holds for you, which races you’d like to target and if we’re really honest, how many of them you’ll actually be able to make it to!  When the whole world is still upside down, goal setting can create focus, certainty, consistency and motivation but HOW you set those goals is even more critical than the goal itself.  We’re going to share with you the three things that makes goal setting work, tried and tested over and over with our own coached athletes.

The first thing to remember is that goals are entirely personal to you, working towards a goal that is important and has meaning to you is the first essential step.  Set yourself a goal that your training buddy wants to do and you’ll lose your way.  Set a goal that your coach thinks you should do and you’ll lose motivation.  So take some time to think about what makes you feel excited.  What feels like it’s just slightly out of reach but with effort and a plan in place, could just be doable.

Setting unrealistic goals creates disbelief which can lead to anxiety.  You’ll either miss your goal by a country mile and feel as though you’ve failed, or you’ll panic and overtrain trying to hit your numbers when the truth is, you’re just not ready for it yet.

Take Peter, an athlete with 2 years triathlon experience who had done Challenge Peguera-Mallorca to finish his season and was now training for DATEV Challenge Roth.  When we started working with Peter, he was following a training plan designed for an elite athlete.  The plan required him to train more or less full time and had hours of training sessions with both high intensity and duration.  For a working dad of two, life just didn’t allow for that and so unsurprisingly Peter came to us tired, frustrated and on paper, ‘failing’.  The goal itself was both aspirational and achievable but training like a pro, was totally unrealistic which made the goal itself feel out of reach.  So we helped him to redesign his training.

For goals like Peters (and in fact any goal at all), you need to break it down into both short term (proximal) and long term (distal) goals.

Let’s say you’re working towards a DATEV Challenge Roth race in 2022, this is your big goal, it’s your ‘A’ race. But in order to build towards your A race we need to focus on each of the individual elements of triathlon. Breaking down the whole race into the specific disciplines, wrapping around the right numbers to train towards (and when we say the right numbers we mean numbers that are tough but achievable) and then using regular testing along with less important ‘B’ and ‘C’ races as markers to measure your progress makes your big audacious goal, suddenly much more manageable.

When we work with athletes at Challenge Tri Camp we use your training numbers to design each session. These numbers guide both us as the coaches and you as the athlete and most importantly allow you to see the steady build of strength and endurance and power you’re creating as you work towards your goal.  So whether you’re working with a coach or guiding yourself, remember, know your numbers and work towards steady incremental growth – gains are not made from unrealistic giant leaps.

Next, think about the local or regional races that you can use as building blocks to work into your schedule.  Working backwards from your ‘A’ race, identify smaller races that you can use that will work as shorter term goals allowing you to track progress and build confidence, these are crucial building blocks in getting you closer to your ‘A’ race.

So let’s summarise:

1 – Make your main goal for the year one that’s both ambitious and, with effort, achievable.

2 – Know and work with your numbers, pay attention to what they’re telling you and focus on small incremental steps, giant leaps will signal that something is wrong not right!

3 – Finally, find shorter term races or do your own ‘race simulations’ that form the building blocks for your training plan. They’ll keep you motivated, focussed and moving forwards.

We know that setting goals with these three things in mind works because ultimately, you’re always in control.  Whether you’re training yourself or working with a coach, if you want to for example knock 2 minutes off your half distance race 21km run time then you can set the numbers and the training schedule to work towards it.  You can find a local race or do a run test yourself to provide a benchmark for your training and you’ll be motivated to know you’re making good progress towards your big goal.

This kind of focus doesn’t worry about the overall outcome of the race, but is entirely designed to give you your best possible outcome.  And nothing is quite as sweet as hitting a personal best, stepping up a distance, making it to your first overseas race or even making it to your first race.

We’d love to hear what goals your setting yourself for 2022 so drop the team at Challenge Tri Camp a line at and tell us where you’ll be racing or what you are working towards in 2022.

This article was written by Challenge Family’s official training partner, Challenge Tri Camp. For further information about Challenge Tri Camp visit their website.