I once lived my life based on weight loss goals. It was mentally exhausting as it felt like a part-time job with negative stress. It wasn’t fun.
As part of my transformation, I learned how to set fitness goals that are based on healthy behaviours like following my training schedule, rather than the number on a scale. But the transition wasn’t that smooth. Because as a triathlete, I knew I could go faster without necessarily having to train harder or more, as weight loss equalled free speed. And when you on your bike climbing rollers, you definitely want to be lighter.
There weren’t other people at my gym or at races that looked like me, so I thought how could anyone relate to my experience and insisted on focusing on weight loss. I drove my coach nuts. I dug my heels in deep and tried to get people to join my pity party. But I received zero RSVPs . I get it now, it’s all relative. Regardless of your body shape, size or weight, a hard workout is a hard workout. Weighing less may help me go faster but it doesn’t make the training easier. And anything worth achieving is worth working at.
With this new perspective, I started setting SMART goals based on behaviors.
Specific – goals are general, so set specific objectives that you want to achieve
Measurable – you should be able to measure whether you are meeting the objectives
Achievable - the objectives need to be achievable and attainable
Realistic – the objectives needs to be realistic and can be achieved with the resources you have
Time – the objective needs a defined timeline
Achieving any kind of athletic goal takes time for your body to change and adapt. Here are some questions to ask yourself before setting your goal, whether it’s getting ready for the beach volleyball season, learning to surf on your next vacation or training for a charity bike ride.
- What is the motivation for my goal?
- How do I want to feel, once I’ve achieved my goal?
- Does this goal fit into my life right now?
- What is my current fitness level, how much time is required to achieve my goal?
- Where can I get extra support for my goal – family, friends, trainer or coach?
- Is this goal in alignment with my personal values and beliefs?
- What compromises or choices will my family and I need to make in order to meet this goal?
- Is it worth it?
- What are the financial costs associated with achieving this goal?
- Will my nutrition need to change, to achieve my goal?
Once you’ve defined your SMART goal, set your strategy of how you will achieve it through your training action plan. Here is an example of how this may look:
Goal: Cycle Faster
Objectives: To increase my average cycling speed to 25 km/hr and complete the Becel Ride for Heart (25km) charity ride in 56 minutes.
Strategy: Follow a 16-week training plan that includes individual and group aerobic/anaerobic, strength and mental training
1. Spinning Class: 2 x week for 45 minutes, executed as follows:
- One (1) Interval Ride – heart rate zones 70-85% effort of maximum heart rate
- One (1) Interval Ride of Hills - heart rate zones 70-85% effort of maximum heart rate
- Outdoor cycling: 1 x week, 90 minutes executed as follows:
- One (1) Endurance Ride – heart rate zone 70-75% effort of maximum heart rate
2. Leg Strength Training: 2 x week for 30 minutes, executed as follows:
- Forward lunges, squats, hamstring leg press, calf raises and step-ups.
3. Visualization: during spinning class, spend 10 minutes visualizing yourself successfully crossing the finishing line at the Becel Ride for Heart in less than 56 minutes.
- Mental Training: select a word i.e. “Power” to repeat during challenging rides. i.e. climbing a hill, legs starting to fatigue. Since your body follows what your mind tells it, and you cannot focus on 2 things at once, this gives you an advantage by focusing on a positive word knowing your body will respond and keep up.
Your goal is personal, but the strategies and training plans you implement can come from a variety of sources including online training programs, a Personal Trainer or Coach or by belonging to a club.
Set a goal.