The problem with being SMART

January 23, 2011
There are a few key phrases associated with goal setting; process goals, outcome goals and SMART goals. The 3 are interlinked in that you first decide upon outcome goals for the season. You then put in process goals (training/coaching and race tactics) to achieve this. All the time, you are told to make sure that these goals are SMART to ensure that they are achieved.


    Are described as;

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time frame

The premise being that if your objectives are specific and measurable (ie you know when you have succeded), and are achievable and realistic (not complete flights of fancy) and that they are aimed to be realised within a certain time frame (again, helping to define if success has been achieved) then your process and outcome goals should come to fuition.

Problems with SMART

I have a few problems with SMART. Firstly, Specific ~ Measurable and Achievable ~ Realisitic but it has to be said that I am not above adding a few extraneous letters to make my acronyms read nicely ;-) My main problem is that the focus of SMART is often put on goals being Achievable and Realisitic. What does Achievable and Realisitic bring to goal setting? Really?



They bring safety and comfort.

There is nothing wrong with this, I think it all needs to be framed in terms of what your ultimate objective (ie beyond this one season is).

Improving on SMART

In my own case inparticular, as an aspiring Pro Triathlete I think there are other factors that need to be considered;

W = Wild Ambition
E = Exceeding Limits
D = Daring
S = Suffering

To help illustrate the value of these points here are a few quotes from Chrisse Wellington from a recent interview she gave to The Observer;

    "I go beyond what I think is possible; I punish myself and really learn to suffer,"

    "That gives me the peace of mind and confidence to know that when I'm racing and it hurts, I can overcome it. When I get off the bike, for instance, I don't think: 'Oh Lordy, I've got a marathon to do', I think: 'Bring it on."

    "If you've got time to wipe away the dribble then you're not working hard enough,"

Her words do not speak of pleasant safety and the comfort of SMART. They speak of uncomprimising ambition and pushing beyond limits. Chrissie started 'exerice' in 2001 when she ran in the London Marathon to lose weight. In 2008 she demolished the Ironman World Championships. Had anyone said to her in 2006, let alone 2001, that she was going to be Iroman World Champion I expect she would have thought that suggestion was anything but Achievable or Realistic. So are these notions of value in the top echelons of the sport or could they be improved upon?

I would like to suggest an alternative;

S = Suffering
W = Wild Ambition
E = Exceeding Limits
A = Achievable
(still important, just not that important)
T = Time Frame
E = Exciting
D = Daring

SWEATED. Which I think is also nicely apt.

Applying SWEATED

This came to mind when evaluating my 2010 season. I think I was lacking this ruthless ambition but I will discuss this in another post. This realisation was crystalised when I was discussing season goals with one of the athletes I have just started coaching. His ambition is to complete Ironman UK in 10hrs 15mins and qualify for Hawaii. He has only ever completed one triathlon before.

I have only just started working with him so we don't know if this is realistic, and at the moment it is not particularly important. What excites me is that he has that ambition to try and achieve what few would think is possible. We may well fail at the first attempt, but the important thing is that he is putting himself in a position where he is not afraid to fail, and it is this attitude that determines long term success in the sport. To look beyond what people would regularly think is achievable, what people think is a safe and comfortable goal, and aim for something that is daring and full of wild ambition.

Some of you may have spotted that I have added an extra E to the acronym, this E stand for excitement. I remember listening to an interview with Sir Chris Hoy, and paraphrasing slightly, it went something along the lines of;

    If when you are making your season plans they don't excite you, you shouldn't bother

January is a time when most people plan their season, so my advice would be look beyond SMART, dare to challenge yourself beyond what you think is possible, be prepared to risk failure, but first and foremost make sure your ambitions excite you each and every time you go out and train for them.


Training Week 17th - 23rd January

January 23, 2011
Recovery Week

It's been a very busy week work rise and I have been organising the Bath Run Series which has had it's last event on Sunday which was a great success. Consequently I have been too busy/tired to do the training I had planned. But in recovery weeks especially it is more important to actual recover somewhat than just becoming progressively more tired. Especially as I am going to Lanzarote on Tuesday for 11 days to get some high quality training in, it didn't make sense to go there t...
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Training Week 9th - 16th January

January 18, 2011
Another good volume week this week. I was particularly knackered Wednesday night after two 6 hour days but after a lighter day Thursday I was able to finish the week off well on Friday/


3hrs 15min ride on powercranks......double puncture = long walk home :-(
45min run - had meant to be a brick session but I'm not sure you can count it was an hour walk in the middle, and dinner.


6km swim 8x600 alt swim, pull + 30secs
1hr 45min run
2hrs on powercranks, one outside, one on the rollers

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Training Week 2nd - 8th January 2011

January 8, 2011
After having a somewhat longer end of season break due to a mystery illness and jamming my foot down a rabbit hole, my build up in winter training has been progressive, yet very steady. This last week I was able to enjoy a good week of high volume base endurance work;


1hr 50min run (on my 2hr loop which apparently needs renaming) before breakfast
1hr 15min ride on powercranks


3hr ride on powercranks
3hr hike
1hr run


5.5km swim, aerobic mixed strokes
1hr 30min ride on powercranks ...
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2010 Season Evaluation Part (i)

January 4, 2011
At the beginning of the 2010 season I resolved to take a fresh approach to being a Professional Triathlete. In short, in 2008 & 2009 I had raced the Pro World Championships but triathlon remained far from being a profession - I was spending far more money chasing qualifying spots around the world than I was gaining in prize money. Competing in triathlon professionally was losing me money. There were two options; keep doing what I was doing and become bankrupt or revaluate my priorites so I ca...
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World Triathlon Corporation announces Budget Cuts and a new Early Access Program

November 11, 2010
Following the recent announcement and prompt rescinding of the Ironman Access Program, which invited athletes to pay $1,000 for early registration to all Ironman events (entry fee not included), budget cuts have followed...

Below is a picture of the sandcastle at the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in Clearwater in 2008;

and the 2009 sandcastle.....

and the 2010 sandcastle....... (photo copyright Ramon Serrano)

A statement from the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owners of Ironman, explained...
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The Pro Triathlete Dilemma (ii) - how many races is too many?

November 2, 2010
What I Decided

Race 3 was a target race for the year being a half ironman. The added incentive was that my wetsuit sponsor TRI 11 is a German company. I fancied my chances of leading out the swim in the race, Challenge Walchsee, just over the boarder. Getting this relatively new company good TV coverage was a priority as they have been very good to me and I wanted to justify their investment.....and help retain it for next year. So race 3 is a definite.

Race 2 was part of a series I was ...
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The Pro Triathlete Dilemma (I) - How much is money worth?

October 6, 2010
What is worth more - winning money in a smaller race VS finishing position in a big race ?

Well, obviously they are both important. Money is important, 'it can be exchanged for good or services' (H. Simpson) which most people, myself have included have need of....cakes and keeping Isaac in working order. A good finish (top 10) in a big race - Challenge Series or 70.3 looks more impressive but when costs are taken into account, you may often still finish the race with a deficit in your wallet.

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First Pro out the Swim at Challenge Walchsee Kaiserwinkl!!!

September 16, 2010
For the first time ever I have lead out a Pro Swim and it was fantastic race to do it at - in a prestine lake surrounded by snow capped mountains in Austria.

I had a good start and togther with another guy who started in the middle, we made our way over to a tri who started on the right. Once in that lead group I made every effort on conserve my energy (yes, I drafted off them!), slowly working my way into second position by the half way point. The way back to shore was less than obvious as we...
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3 Recent Good Happenings in the Triathlon World

August 30, 2010
Entrepreneurship - Have a look here

(i) A friend of mine, Alex Lewis, pitched on Dragon's Den a few weeks ago and successfully in obtaining the money he needed to get his awesome idea up to speed.

A couple of years ago I raced the British National Championships, in March, in torrential rain and gales on a Welsh hillside. Out of the 25 or so athletes I think everyone started the ten lap bike. Alex was one of the smart ones who dropped out after a lap or two. I was too stubborn and rode on for 7...
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