Goal Setting : 3-2-1 Target Approach


Goal Setting

In events (and even in daily training) it always pays to have clearly defined targets to achieve.

Always have at least 3 targets:

3) A Basic Goal:  This is a goal which you really should reach whatever happens and even on an off day i.e. set low.

2) A Realistic Goal: This is the performance that you have a realistic chance of achieving (for example, given a good run and reasonable weather).

1) A Barrier Breaking Goal:  This is your dream performance e.g. if this is “your day”, weather is perfect, everthing comes together etc. Needs to be set high.

We will look at how this can be applied to a specific event such as a race, but the same principles also apply in training e.g. to performing a weight training session with the intention of achieving a PB (Personal Best)

First work out what your 3 targets will be. Of course you can have these 3 goals for all your timing points throughout the race (e.g. one quarter, half-way etc) and may move between them during the course of the event.

It goes without saying that it is worth giving quite a lot of thought and effort to deciding on your goal times.

If you have a specific goal such as achieving a specific time over a specific distance this is good and gives you a focus to work on.

It is important however to realise that no athlete can ever guarantee to be able to achieve any given goal; quite apart from training performance, some things are not controllable by an individual (for example, weather conditions, the actions of other competitors, or any other random unforeseeable circumstance, even something as simple as a shoe-lace breaking). Having a realistic set of goals can help you have fall-back plans if things do not go as well as you may hope – or for that matter if they go better than expected.

Other than long-term “dream goals” which may only be realised very gradually over an extended period of time, your current goals should ideally be informed by your actual training performance.

Goals represent a projection of your possible or expected future performance – but no one can completely guarantee the future.

Goals should be understood to be subject to change based upon circumstances. If a person’s training performance increased drastically then it might be wise to set the goal higher. If a person’s training performance did not develop as quickly as they hoped, it would be realistic to set a goal a little lower.

Goals should always be challenging, but they should also be realistically attainable.

Using goals to determine any level of “success” or “failure” should also be understood within context. An athlete achieving slightly under their personal best in an event might easily be considered to have “failed” to reach their goal, yet if the race in which they took part suffered gale force winds, or if they had suffered an injury at the time, by more objective standards they may have produced their best ever performance.

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