Today kicked off the first day of cross-country around the Vancouver area, marking the beginning of a new season with a fresh sense of optimism for athletes and coaches alike.
For athletes new to running, there's the excitement of meeting new people, creating new friendships, and eventually figuring out why you decided to choose running as your extracurricular activity. For those who have a few years of running under their belt, there's the wonder for what lays ahead, the vast thoughts of making or sustaining your position on the varsity squad, and the potential of running a sub-X time.
Whether you're a beginning runner or a seasoned vet, implementing psychological tools into your training invariably helps guide your season. For many Sport Psychologists and Coaches, the use of Goal Setting is often the first tool extracted from the mental toolbox. The use of Goal Setting provides continuous direction and feedback, which can enhance both reality and confidence.
To begin the process of setting goals, important factors must be considered before putting pencil to paper. First, how did your summer training go? More specifically, how did your summer training of 2016 compare with 2015? The goals you set for the coming season are predicated on past performance and the recent months of training you've put forth. For example, comparatively speaking, if you've put in quality miles this past summer, and in 2015 you did not, then you should expect a much improved season. Let your Goals show this.
If you are new to the sport of cross-country, then you are likely joining the team because A) you have a friend on the team, or B) a coached begged...suggested you run. Regardless of the reason, setting goals can create a sense of accomplishment by season's end.
No matter where you are at in the sport of running, it is best to sit with a seasoned runner or coach to help you create and adjust your goals as the season progresses. Here are some helpful tips to creating your own goals for the season ahead:
1. Set both practice and performance goals.
2. Set an Outcome oriented goal, such as a specific time you want to run.
3. Set Process oriented goals, which are typically two to four supporting steps toward achieving your Outcome goal.
When you begin Goal Setting, write these goals out on paper. Once you have written out and expanded upon each of the three steps, narrow down your writing to just a few sentences, and potentially to a single sentence until you have clearly defined and described goals. Once this is done, transfer your written work to a simple index card, which is small enough to place somewhere you'll regularly see, reminding yourself of the process it takes to achieve your goals.
The effort you put into setting goals will help alleviate anxiety and create a sense of accomplishment as the season gets underway. As your season progresses, review and adjust your goals as your fitness level increases and the meets unfold.
Speak with your coaches about your goals and if you have any question around the Goal Setting process, don't hesitate to message me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 360-989-0935.
Good luck to all the XC runners this 2016 season!