Photo: Johnlric | Dreamstime.com

The holiday season is behind us and 2014 awaits. For triathletes, this is a great time to construct some goals for the upcoming race season. Want to finish your first triathlon? Trying to snag a podium spot at an Ironman? Is this the year you qualify for Kona? By creating goals now, you will have the time to effectively work towards them. Here are three helpful tips to help you get there.

1.)  Write down your goal and put it somewhere visible. Up on the wall in your room, in front of your desk at work, or on the refrigerator. This will be a constant reminder of what your goal is, and evoke you to work at it day in and day out. If you create a goal only in your mind, it can be manipulated whenever you choose, but if you write it down it becomes real. When my alarm clock goes off every morning, my goal appears on the screen. It is the first thing I see every day and it reminds me what I am working toward.

2.)  Short-term goals can help you reach an ultimate long-term goal. Decide what you want to accomplish and rewind to where you are now. It is likely you aren’t in ideal race shape during the winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start working toward your goals every day. With the help of a training partner or coach, brainstorm some short-term goals to use as stepping stones toward your bigger goal down the road. For example, if you would like to win your age group at an Ironman, and you know from studying results that it will take a 1:05 swim, 5:30 bike and 4:00 run, evaluate where you are now and create benchmarks. Whether that involves trying to hit a certain run time at a local road race, or swimming a test-set of 100’s on a specific interval in the pool; weekly or monthly benchmarks of fitness can give you positive feedback and reinforcement that you can achieve your long-term goal.

3.) Be realistic and enjoy the process. Take a good hard look at where you are currently as an athlete when creating your goals for 2014. Achievable goals trump extreme goals. It is important to aim high, but keep perspective and understanding of yourself and what you are capable of. If Ironman is something you do for fun on the side, don’t sacrifice the balance in other areas of your life. Find the ”sweet spot” that gives you momentum while climbing the ladder to your long-term goal. Even though it is difficult, try not to focus solely on the end result. Give attention to carrying out the processes daily, and the outcome will follow.