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.

SMART Goals

    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.