Moving Forward by Looking Back

Image of a triathlete coming to the finish line giving high fives
December 17, 2023

Jim Hallberg



It’s the end of the year and the beginning of a new year!

For many of us, our primary race season is now over. It might be time to reduce load, volume and intensity, and maybe restructure to a winter, or off-season, focused training block. This might be a good time to be a single-sport athlete and focus on a specific discipline.

Before you move on, reflect on 3 questions from your 2023 season.

What went well or what did you enjoy about 2023?

What did you learn? No matter the experience level, we always learn something.

What would you do differently? “Back to the lab again, yo.” Get healthy- mentally and physically. A mental check could be your mindset about things you don't love doing. For example, if you hate swimming, guess what, you will not improve in it. If you have a negative hang-up about something,  that’s not going to help your cause for being your best self. Change your mindset for more positivity and envision your best self doing doing that task with efficiency and gratitude.

I’ve been doing this racing business for 25 years. And I must say I simply can not copy and paste one training season’s plan to the next. Subtle changes always require me to move forward and adapt and change. I do believe this is a great thing.

Show Gratitude

One thing I want to point out is to never take your fitness for granted. I have, on several occasions, just assumed I could build off one season or improve from the previous year.

For me, 2021 was a pretty darn good year, but I didn’t recognize it as such. You see most of us always want a little more; that’s the nature of this business. But its also important to appreciate what you have at the same time, because you never know when that might change. Show appreciation to yourself.

New year… New You

Now as we roll to 2024, you can start with the last question of what would you do differently.

Are you willing to take different risks? Try something new?

For me, maybe it's some epic gravel bike races. I’ve always wanted to bike from Fort Collins to Durango, CO

State your goals, mottos and motivations, what’s your why? Again, this is not a rinse and repeat from previous years, because what got you out of bed at 5am in 2023 might be stale and worn and it’s time to find a new you and new reason- a new fire.

Have you been plagued with injuries, maybe chronically getting a cold, or schedule conflicts have limited your improvements. What can you realistically handle and change in your life to be a better version of yourself? Maybe that’s a change in race distances or disciplines to accommodate a change in lifestyle.

Goals that are written down increase the chances of achieving them by 42% Lastly, write down your athletic and personal goals for 2024. Maybe individual sport-specific including strength (deadlift 10% more than last year), and maybe triathlon as a whole (break 5 hrs in a half).

Then list a sub-set of what steps you need to take to get there.

Saying you want to swim faster is fine, but what are you willing to do differently to get there?. Maybe going from 2-3 days to 4-5 days a week. Maybe it’s joining a masters program 1-2 days a week. Getting some professional help with swimming is not a 1 and done process. Commit some time and energy to your cause.

I also recommend doing something different or trying something new. Maybe it’s a trail race or a team relay race. Maybe it’s biking across your state. (Unless you live in Texas :-)). I also recommend working on all-out speed in each discipline. Have you ever done an adult swim meet, an all-out 5k best effort, or done a local bike race or time trial? Ditch the Garmin and go for broke and see what you can really do.

Write or type your goals out and print them out.

Post them where you WILL see them everyday. Not just white noise. Maybe it’s at your coffee maker, or in your bathroom. Or next to your shoes.

Print it out short and sweet so its to the point and fires you up!! Small daily executions of a new habit will compound into big changes.

Dream In Years
Set Goals in Quarters
Plan in Months
Evaluate in Weeks
Execute Daily!!

Coach Jim Hallberg notices that some athletes spend too much time focusing solely on their strengths or just on their weaknesses. As a coach, he believes you should work on both. Your strengths can give you a competitive edge in one or more of the disciplines but spend an inordinate amount of time on them and you can forgo progress in other areas. Not enough time and you’ll see them diminish. Same with your weaknesses.  Coach Jim works with you to build a plan to balance the two and make you the best overall athlete you can be!

Coach Jim is a 5X USA Triathlon National Champion, a USA Triathlon Level II Certified Coach and USA Cycling Level II Certified Coach.

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