Another article from one of our most popular writers, here Ian Mountford talks us through his own goal setting process and why it’s important to him and his focus
Goal setting and targets
The main things that keep my training focussed through the year are my goals. They can be related to finishing a particular race, delivering a new personal best, keeping my weight below a ‘magic’ number, or simply avoiding a trip to the doctors. But the key for me is committing to at least one, consigning it to the log books as soon as possible, and then moving on to the next one.
The years when I haven’t had a goal and have just been a ‘fun’ runner – only lacing up and heading out when the sun was shining or I could no longer do up my trousers – were perfectly ok, but the years where there have been targets have just been much better all round. They have been exciting, challenging and tough, no doubt, but the sense of achievement and accomplishment when the goals have been hit has always been worth the effort. I’ve also been sharper mentally in everything I do, more driven and determined.
In the last twelve months my targets were all about completing races. I had not really raced at all since my last marathon – number 5 – in London in 2005, so the training began in late 2009. I entered Madrid Marathon, Ride24 (a 24 hour cycling team relay) and London Triathlon over the Olympic distance, and so had to not only get back to running but put as many bike miles in as possible and learn how to swim from scratch! Add to this my relocation from the US back to the UK, and you can see there was a lot to be done, but I got through it all and had a great time in the process.
So why set these goals? To me, it’s all about ensuring there is a purpose to each training session. I love feeling that I’m making progress, and the targets drive me to ensure I get the maximum out of everything I do. As you reach your goal and set a new one, it also keeps your training fresh and focussed. Since the summer I’ve set my heart on picking up some speed, and I’ve seen a whole new way of working out really pay off with a new 10K PB. Sharing your goals with others can also be a big help when it comes to getting the support we all need as we give it 100% effort. No-one ever said they had too much support, so the more people who know what your goals are, the better off you’ll be come race day!
Have you set your goals for 2011? Let us know what they are so we can join your cheering squad…