Goal-Setting for Performance, Outcome and Process

Goal-Setting for Performance, Outcome and Process

One of our Elite Ambassadors, Ian Deeth, will run his debut marathon in the Gold Coast, Queensland on 2 July. So far, Ian has discussed his background in sports and his perspective on finding your passion and infinite purpose. In this third post, Ian shares some of his thoughts about the process of goal-setting, and why he chose the Gold Coast Marathon as his 2023 focus.

With my passion (running) and infinite purpose (being healthy for life) established, my process for planning 2023 started with me thinking about which races would give me a perfect blend of challenge and excitement, but were also realistic, both in terms of stretching my abilities and not negatively tipping the balance with regards to the other responsibilities in my life. 

My process starts with me thinking about the experiences I’ve enjoyed the most, and then which races have caught my attention that I have yet to try. I write all of these down. I then look at which of these options are realistic in terms of aligning with my work calendar, family commitments and cost. The list is always comprehensive but it is exciting to look at the wonderful array of opportunities that exist. The end of the pandemic really increased my sense of gratitude for the many exciting racing options to choose from!

Subconsciously, I’m sure the decision-making about which races I would love to target for the 2023 season has been floating around my mind for a while, but one of my recent ‘stand-out’ experiences was completing the Spartan Ultra in Johor Bahru.

As outlined in my first post, the longer an event is, the further it moves out of my comfort zone and creates a real stretch goal. A Spartan Ultra consists of 50 obstacles over 50km of mixed terrain. My longest race prior to this was a 21km road race, so the training plan and build-up to get myself race-ready for a Spartan Ultra was a shock to the system and a steep learning curve. But it was a journey I absolutely loved, and now reflect back fondly on.

With this in mind, as I filtered through all of my race options for 2023, one race began to stand out – the Gold Coast Marathon! These were my top five reasons why:

  1. It will be a new experience
  2. It’s a challenge that will stretch my abilities; some of my best feelings have come from conquering the toughest challenges, and the journey it took to get there!
  3. The timing is perfect; the race takes place on the second weekend of my summer break from teaching, which means no work distractions – an extra bonus will be a family holiday in Australia directly after; post-race we will be in an amazing country and area where we can enjoy a holiday and catch up with friends
  4. It provides enough time to put together the right training build-up but is also close enough that it doesn’t feel too far away
  5. The course has received excellent reviews; it is described as fast, flat and scenic and my training group has spoken positively about it!

Now an ‘A’ race had been set; it was time to put together a training plan and set some goals.

When people set goals, the first thing many think about is that they want to run a particular time (a sub-3 hour marathon, for example). This is known as a performance goal. It is an aspect of performance over which the athlete has a large degree of control. It allows the athlete to focus on the details of the performance, not just the result.

Goals that focus on a result, such as trying to gain selection for a team or finishing a competition in a particular position, are known as outcome goals, and whilst they can provide a form of motivation, the outcome is largely outside athletes' control. They can be more useful for events like Spartan, in which you are racing for position rather than time.

However, for my marathon build-up, my focus has been very much on process goals. As my race date comes closer, I will definitely have a performance goal (with a target race pace in mind) but until then, my focus will be specifically on the process of exactly what I need to do to be in my best possible shape come race day.

One of the best benefits of process goals is that they help you build momentum, especially when you are working towards a long-term goal that can be several months (or more) away. This process can also help identify areas in which you need to make adjustments to your training plan by breaking down your goal into more manageable steps; from there, you can target areas to which you need to pay more attention.

Process goals focus on specific actions, and the training needed to achieve an end goal. However, rather than focusing purely on the end result, process goals help you break down your desired outcome into smaller, more manageable steps. They are perfect with regards to helping you focus on the controllable and stay honed in on what exactly you need to do, and they go hand-in-hand with your training programme. 

For example, one of the key components of my marathon build is my Saturday morning long run, which has gradually progressed in duration as my training has developed. One of the habits that help me prepare for this is the blocking of a regular time slot on a Saturday morning at 5 a.m. This is before my family wake up and whilst the weather is still relatively cool. Another habit, to ensure the run starts on time, begins the night before, when I prepare all of my training attire, nutrition and anything else I need. I also set my alarm for 4:30 am. This means that when I wake up, I’m training at an optimal time with regard to cooler weather and also at a time away from family commitments. Everything I need is already set out for me, which means no time is wasted and no excuses to tackle the training ahead.

Something I read recently: James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, wrote, “We do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.”

Trust the process!

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