Setting Goals for Next Season

January 9, 2017

Mike Ricci


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Setting goals for your triathlon season is important if you want to improve upon where you are and how you raced last year. Let’s look at a few simple ideas when goal setting.One of the most important aspects of goal setting is making your goals measurable. Your goal could be to ‘run a 28:00 minute 5k’ but it shouldn’t be to ‘get faster’. We all want to get faster in a relative sense, but we should put ourselves out there and ‘say what we mean, and mean what we say’.

Another important aspect of goal setting is to make the goal challenging but realistic. Say for example, your current fitness level allows you to run a 40:00 10k off the bike; the chances of you running 33:00 is not very likely in a season’s time. By no means do I mean you should limit your goals, but they have to be realistic. One of the strategies I follow when goal setting is to set myself up for a few slam dunks along the way. Currently my fitness level tells me I can swim a 14:10 for 1,000 yards. My first swim goal of the new season will be to swim 14:00 for 1,000 yards by December 1st. Your goals should be challenging but attainable. If you can’t reach the first set of goals, how will you ever reach the harder ones?

Setting and achieving goals needs to be under your control. Sometimes there are other factors that affect your goals such as the course or who your competitors are you are racing. Your goal may be to ‘Finish in the Top 10’ but if you have no idea who will be racing that day; that may be unrealistic. This is where a time goal is a good objective.

Another factor that may be out of your control is the weather or the course. You may want to average a certain MPH on the bike, but if the course is very hilly, this may not be realistic. Or if the wind or heat is playing a factor in the race, times may be slower.

Writing your goals down is another step toward achieving them. It is said that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Another idea would be tell some of your close friends what your goals are. It is my opinion that if you step up and say your goals out loud, they are likely to come true. The more you hear them and see them, the more attainable they become.

Lastly, and this is an obvious one, but your goals HAVE to be positive! Your goal should be to finish the race in this ‘x’ time, but it shouldn’t be ‘not to be last’. Always think of goals in the positive: “I will run the whole run” or “I will not miss more then 2 days of training per month” – remember goals should be measurable, attainable, under your control, they must be written down, and they should be positive!

Here is an example set of season swim goals for an athlete:

Swim 14:00 for 1k by November 1st. (1:24 per100 yds)

Swim 13:30 for 1k by January 1st. (1:21 per100 yds)

Swim 13:00 for 1k by March 1st. (1:18 per100 yds)

Swim 12:30 for 1k by May 1st. (1:15 per100 yds)

To re-cap:

Goals must be:

1. Measurable

2. Challenging but attainable

3. Under your control

4. They MUST be written down!

5. They must be positive!

Michael Ricci is a USAT certified coach. He can be reached for personal coaching at

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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