Is Your Goal too Big?

by | Mar 3, 2020 | Mindset, Training

Each year I have a few clients that come to me with goals they have signed up for that are pretty big. Perhaps too big to do for there current abilities/lifestyle and/or too big for the time-line that has been established

Now I did write ‘Pick a big Crazy goal‘ but I also wrote “Can you prepare for the Goal You Have Set“, so there are some caveats and finesse in how we choose those yearly targets.

You are likely fine if …

If you have a goal that is motivating you and is just going to be a push then this is likely ok. Ensure you have a long term vision beyond the race and some practical skill/practice goals as well as event day ‘process’ goals that allow you to achieve success regardless of results/outcomes.

When I am working on bike-skills with clients I often ask if the skill they are about to try is more of a 9/10 or a 1/10 chance they will do the obstacle. If confidence doesn’t seem high we can always use safer drills, modifications, progressions & regressions to get confidence higher. With events and goals, this ‘closer to 9’ strategy is likely wise for many of us given all that we have on in addition to the sport. There is generally a way to modify the goal by tweaking the event type, distance, category, timing (different event, different year) etc.

Example of goals and skills

Some examples around my goal to finish an Ironman, which given my background in endurance sport wasn’t that ambitious (i.e. no time goal). My motivation was to learn to swim. So I had Skill goals around learning to swim in the year prior to the event. I had event day process goals to Focusing-refocus on my stroke/sighting in the swim whenever I started to panic (process), and I wanted to finish the swim in the race in under 1:30 (outcome) which was based on the simulations in training and allowed for the randomness of event day and my lack of experience in the event.

Too Much

An example would be signing up for an Ironman triathlon in 6 months if you can’t swim/bike/run. Often there are also lifestyle factors that limit your ability to train hard (i.e. health issues, busy work life, busy family life). Now this same person could plan for an Ironman in 3-5 years with a focus on one or two of the sports this year with some events and skill goals that they can fit into their busy life and see progress in over the year. It is important to note that this person might very well be able to finish an Ironman. The question is whether that is a good long term solution and what they will do after they finish it? … why rush?

If your goal is mathematically too much for you this year (ie. fitness/skills/speed is just too much to accumulate) than you have 3 options:

  1. defer to next year – many events allow this at least early in the year
  2. drop to a shorter (faster) distance – this is often available closer to the event and is a good way to get a feel for the event. SPEED and quality are great aspects you can take pride in at these shorter events.
  3. Be ok with ‘failure’ and see how far you can get – some clients have gone to events like MTB stage races as new mountain bikers knowing they wouldn’t make a few time cuts or have to miss a day or two. Then they went back the next year and did better, and again the next year. They greatly enjoyed the group meals and summer camp experience and went into the event with goals that they could achieve vs. goals that were all but impossible *at that time* given their previous experience and life ahead of the event.

I think all of these options are great! The key is to embrace that these are all part of a longer-term process of mastery and accumulating skills and well … having fun going on big training adventures to prepare for these crazy events!

We discussed this in a Q&A Episode of the Consummate Athlete Podcast


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