The Training Journal Part 4: Training Troubleshooting & Goal Setting

As we round out our 4 part training journal focus, and, as we approach the end of the year, it is common to use this time not only in holiday excitement, but also as a period to look back over the year, find highs and lows in our athletics, professions, and lives. We have in past weeks talked about using the training journal as a training analysis and confidence tool; this time, I’d like to focus on identifying those trouble spots in training (injury, burnout, illness, etc.), and think hard about why these events happened. Building on your training journal information, can you identify any behaviors or incidents that may have led to the ‘low’ experience? Was this event triggered by something you did (jammed all the weeks workouts into 3 days to compensate for missing while on travel) or circumstances that you had no control over (start of school = germs everywhere)? As you begin the process of self-analysis on your training lows, it’s not productive to stay focused on these moments. Like all things, training and fitness fluctuate; so, armed with information regarding the low spot, it’s time to begin structuring goals for the year ahead.
We’ve gone over goal setting before, however, let’s try another goal setting method. Many of us have heard of SMART goal setting as applied in the professional sphere, however, we can easily apply this to outlining our 2018 running and racing goals.  What is SMART goal setting? It’s a means of tackling and breaking down your goals so they are clear, and you understand the steps to achieve them:
  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
For me personally, I can say that I have the goal of running a fast marathon in 2018.  While this is a great goal, I could break it down by asking myself about the SMART aspects of this race goal:
Specifics of the goal (what do I want to accomplish? Why is it important? Who is involved? Where is the location? What resources are required?)
Measureable components (how much running? How long? How will I know I’ve accomplished it?)
Achievable aspects: how will I achieve this goal? How realistic is this goal (also ties into relevance and time)? What are the trouble spots I can forsee? How do I approach these hurdles?
Relevance: Is this training commitment worthwhile? Is my life going to accommodate/be enhanced by pursuing this goal? Is this goal reasonable?
Time-bound: When will this goal be achieved? what is the timing of the process to reaching the goal? What will I be doing 6 days/weeks/months/years from now with respect to this goal? What is my first step?
So a better way of framing my goal might be: I will run a ___:___ time marathon in ____(month) 2018 at the ______ (race name & distance). The training will involve X miles per week, Y strength work commitments, over the next 12-16 weeks. This is reasonable as it is a goal of improving my PB by Z minutes. It will involve work on my part, cooperation with my spouse/children. The hardest part of this for me will be _____________; I will prepare myself to tackle those hurdles by doing ___________ & _____________.  I know I will be successful if I [example: a) achieve my A Goal time, b) if I achieve my B goal time, c) if I finish the race feeling strong]. I will start today by __________; in 6 weeks I will be 6 weeks into my training plan and will be doing/feeling ___________; 6 months from now I will ____________ [example: a) have a new PB, b) be rested and in another training cycle for ________ race/goal].
Your task this weekend (or anytime) is to start looking at trouble spots, begin identifying habits/incidents that led to these injuries/illnesses/layoffs/feeling “off” and use that information to start structuring your goal or series of goals for 2018.
Have fun with this – remember, goal setting is a visionary process: you can dream big, and we can work to address the practical and realistic components of your goals together.

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