Outcome vs. Process Goals

I did a last minute entry into a local sprint triathlon in San Diego.  I am a HUGE fan of short/fast workouts during an ironman taper if the athlete is more aerobic vs. anaerobic and has the durability to recover.  With Ironman Santa Rosa 6 days away…I decided to give my body one last hard workout and go through my equipment and clothing choices.

Before the race I wrote down my goals:

  • Pre Race:
    1. do a 2 mile warm up jog
    2. Swim for a few minutes before my wave takes off
    3. Stretch
  • Swim:
    1. Stay on Course
    2. Swim hard and hold nothing back
  • Bike
    1. Keep power in threshold zone
    2. Stay aero unless approaching a dangerous situation
  • Run
    • Try to keep pace around 6:40-45
  • Post Race
    1. Do a 1 mile cool down jog
    2. Get a massage at the recovery tent
    3. Do a recovery swim when I get back home

All of these goals are what we call Process Goals.  They are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART).  I either succeed at these small goals (which will lead to a better chance of achieving an outcome goal).  An Outcome goal is I want to win my age group, I want to have the fastest bike split, I don’t want to be last, ect….

OF COURSE I want to win my age group and all of the other fun stuff like that but it was more important to me that I had the best possible race I could have given my current fitness and fatigue.  When I finished the race, I rapidly went through all of those small process goals and decided that I only succeeded on a few of them.  I got there late and failed to get in more then a 5 minute jog.  I didn’t stretch at all.  I did stay on course during the swim  and I definitely swam as fast as I could.  I was nowhere near threshold power but I did stay aero for most of the ride.  I didn’t quite average a 6:40 pace, but I was just beneath a 6:50.  I did not do my recovery jog because my calf was bothering me.  I did get a massage and I did do the recovery swim when I got home.   When I did the quick mental tally, I decided that this was not my best performance and I could have done a few things different to improve my experience (which could have effected the outcome more positively).

This was a great way to hit the RESET button before Santa Rosa Ironman next weekend.   I will share with you next week what those goals are and how/what I did to achieve OR not achieve them.  The main take away from this experience today was the following:  I am an intrinsically driven athlete – I work for myself.  I am my own worst enemy and my biggest cheerleader.  If I tick off a majority of my boxes in Santa Rosa then I will be happy with my performance, no matter the outcome.  If I don’t, then I will give it another go soon enough.  Control what you can!

Think about your next key workout or race…write down some SMART process goals and see if you can improve your chances of having a solid experience.

Happy Training! – W-