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Reflection on goals setting

Words: Andre Bekker

We all know the importance of setting goals because no goals mean no motivation. But are you one of those people who sets yourself goals and despite all the hard work and enthusiasm you put in you don't achieve them? Winter is a good time to reflect on those goals and paths you chose to achieve, and here are some guidelines to help you identify what could be holding you back.

First, believe that the goal was achievable and the route taken to achieve the goal is what needs to be looked at. Always find positives in the process; you set a goal (this already sets you apart from most people), you worked towards it without any handouts and did the best you could with the knowledge you have. Now, take a step back and look at the route you took to get to your expected time and performance.


Ask yourself how committed you were to reaching your goal. Did you train when you should have? Did you find reasons to skip training when you were perfectly healthy and capable of training? Did you justify reasons why you could take a break and make it up later? If you answered yes to any of these questions, herein lies the first problem. You will not reach a goal by being lazy, so you need to ensure that any goal you set is realistic and something you want to achieve.

Structured training

Did you train with a plan? Who helped you with the planning? Did you have a coach or a mentor? Did you apply yourself? Structure is very important because no goal can be achieved if you do not have to plan. This plan cannot be a short-term plan either. Training for next year’s Comrades should start in the first week of July. Similarly, if you are entering next year's IRONMAN, your training should have started in May already.

Wasted time

Did you spend a lot of your available time analysing your training instead of training? I am always amazed by people who spend hours analysing their training stats. Make sure you keep a good balance and rather spend that precious time in a structured training programme with a coach.

Body maintenance

Did you get enough sleep? Did you eat properly and hydrate adequately? Did you take care of your body whilst training? If your body is not a 100% healthy, you are doomed for failure. Massages help the muscles recover, while checking your body alignment will ensure you don’t pick up injuries.

Coach compatibility

If you have a coach, are you sure he/she is a match for your requirements? It’s like a marriage, so do you complement one another? Does your coach take your situation into consideration and work with you to reach your specific goals? Does your coach have an intrinsic understanding of what he is coaching you? If not, it could be time for new input or a change of coach.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a coach and have done things on a trial-and-error basis and exhausted your knowledge, then maybe it is time to get help from a coach who can get you back on track.

Over training

Some people get really enthusiastic and train like there is no tomorrow. I watched a lady training and her enthusiasm was infectious. However, it was as clear as day that she was over training and killing herself. This will never work, especially when you do big endurance events like Comrades and IRONMAN. Her coach paid little attention to her needs so she just kept on over training. It came as no great surprise when I later heard that she did not finish Comrades. Over training leads to injuries, illness, and more often than not, a non finish or bad result. In turn, a bad result generally leads to a disillusioned athlete who gives up on their goal.

Old school thinking

Did you do what you did years ago and completely ignored new improvements in nutrition, equipment and training methods? It always amazes me when someone says, "I did it like that 20 years ago, it worked then and it will work now." Really? That same person runs with old shoes, which has holes in them, and is constantly injured.

Race build up

How did you approach the race? Did you plan your race? Did you tapper correctly? This is a really hard thing to get right. Again, some people think they can improve or catch up three weeks before a big race. You will end up over training and this will only harm you. Furthermore, did you plan your nutrition for race day? How often do you hear that you must not try anything new on race day? And then what happens… Planning every aspect of your race is of vital importance, and a coach can help you do this, properly.

Positive attitude

Did you believe in yourself when you lined up for your race? Were you feeling good because you had done everything possible, such as trained in winter, had a coach, set proper goals, and so on? Self-belief is not cultivated over a few months or through the planning of what you are going to do; it’s years of dedicated, hard work all through the year and doing the right things. No goal is worth achieving if it isn’t outside of your comfort zone and doesn’t require hard work. If you do the same thing over and over again the outcome will never change.
If your answers to the above questions indicate that you need to take a new route to achieve your goals, then make the change today. Yes, now in winter - don't hesitate, don't procrastinate, just get out there and do it now.

More information
If you have any questions or need advice on coaching, please email Andre Bekker on or visit http://5thdimensioncoaching.co.za