We all know there can be great power in goal setting. There are few things more satisfying than achieving a lofty goal after significant hard work and sacrifice. But the mere establishment of a goal rarely results in goal attainment. Today, the team walks through a practical process for effective triathlon goal setting that leads to successful follow through and increased likelihood of achievement.


TriDot Podcast .17:

Effective Goal Setting: Why, How, Who, What, and When

This is the TriDot Podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We'll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let's improve together.

Andrew: Welcome to the TriDot podcast, everyone. Today, we'll be talking all about your hopes, your dreams, your triathlon desires. It's our start of the year goal setting episode. We all know that in many avenues of our life, the start of a new year is a great time to reflect on where we've been and more importantly, think through where we want to go next. Our coaches joining me today have helped hundreds of athletes accomplish their multi-sport goals, and will be talking about the why, how, who, what, and when of goal setting for our season. First up today is coach John Mayfield. A successful Ironman athlete himself, John leads TriDot Athlete Services, Ambassador and Coaching Programs. He has coached hundreds of athletes ranging from first-timers to Kona qualifiers, and professional triathletes. John has been using TriDot since 2010 and coaching with TriDot since 2012. Mr. John Mayfield, how's it going today?

John: It's going great. Off to a great start. Beautiful day. Excited to get going.

Andrew: Glad to hear it. Next up is Pro Triathlete and Coach, Elizabeth James. Elizabeth came to the sport from a soccer background and quickly rose through the triathlon ranks using TriDot from a beginner to a top age grouper and professional triathlete. She's a Kona and Boston Marathon qualifier who has coached triathletes with TriDot since 2014. Elizabeth, thanks for joining us.

Elizabeth: Thank you, Andrew. I have been so excited about this episode. I love goals. I love setting intentions and talking about establishing some positive habits. I love planning. So, I just cannot wait to talk about this episode today.

Andrew: Perfect. And who am I? I am Andrew, the average triathlete, voice of the people and the captain of the middle of the pack. We'll get going today with a warm up question and then dive into the main set conversation, covering all the reasons to set goals for the upcoming year. Then I'll cool us down by introducing you to a couple of really cool tools that I found that can hopefully help us all stay on track with our current goals. It's going to be great. Let's get to it.

Time to warm up. Let's get moving.

Andrew: Whether it's a local race or a destination Ironman, most races offer some form of on course nutrition to help us out on race day. At an Ironman event, there's typically an assortment of bananas, cookies, Pretzels, Clif Bars, gels, Coke, Gatorade, Red Bull, water, broth, and I'm sure I'm missing some. But John, Elizabeth if you could add any food and or beverage to the Ironman aid station that they do not usually have, what would you select? John?

John: So, I'm actually pretty happy with the offerings specifically at Ironman. My go-to is Coke. I love it on the course and off the course. And as a Texan, Coke refers to a lot of different things. And-- but yeah.

Andrew: Anything brown and bubbly.

John: Yeah, exactly. But yeah, so especially when I get on the run course at Ironman, that actually becomes kind of my default nutrition.

Andrew: Do you take Coke at every aid station on Ironman?

John: Pretty much.

Andrew: Do you drink more Coke than water?

John: Sometimes for better for worse I've had that and yeah, so that in things like chicken broth. I don't know who came up with chicken broth on an Ironman run course, but it's fantastic, it's genius especially when it gets late and cold, that's amazing. Yeah, the same sports drink for 12 hours certainly gets old and all, but I would say the one thing that if I could add is the one thing I always talk about having in my special needs bags is some candy. So, my special bags default is some Sour Patch Kids. So, if I didn't have to go to my special needs bags to get some Sour Patch Kids and they had those out at the aid stations, I think that'd be pretty cool.

Andrew: They have Sour Patch Kids cereal now, which to me just ain't right.

John: Yeah, that's--

Andrew: It’s not okay. So, Elizabeth James, what about you? What would you add to the Ironman aid station?

Elizabeth: So, kind of like John was saying, I would want something that I bring myself that would be at the aid stations and I would not have to bring myself. So, UCAN. I'd love if UCAN were on course so that I didn't have to supply it on my own. I mean, I also think it's a great product that everyone would benefit from utilizing in the race day nutrition strategy. So, that's what I would say on course. I guess on course, I'm thinking very practical, but can we talk about the post-race food tent? I'd like to put a request in there for ice-cream. They had ice-cream in Kona post-race, fantastic idea. And I would love to see that cool treat and more of those in post-race food tents

Andrew: Yeah, I work with some youth triathlon teams and at most of the youth races, especially here in Texas in the summer, they'll have like a variety of like the little ice pops that you put in the freezer like little freezer stick-- I don't know what those are called, but--

John: Popsicles. They're called popsicles.

Andrew: Okay, popsicles. But they pass those out to the kids post-race and I'm like, I'm always like, where are these at the adult races? So, they can help cool down a little bit after the hot race, right? So, usually for the warm up questions. I write these, you know, I put them in so I know what's coming. You guys are usually surprised by them. I know it's coming. So, I usually have time to think this through in advance. Today, I put this question in, moved on, kept writing and have not thought this through. So, while you guys were talking I was like “Man, what would I want on the aid station course?” And so John, I'm like you on the beverage, I really enjoyed the Coke. Just every aid station, I just sip of water, sip of Coke, I keep going. Which is funny. Like I was never really a big soda drinker until the very first-- and it was even my first Ironman event. I think it was like my third Half Ironman. I tried Coke on course for the first time. And it was a game-changer. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is wonderful.” And now like, I just had dinner, and like every now and then I'll order a Coke because it's like, I don't know, I just-- [crosstalk]

John: It’s nostalgic, takes you back to the racecourse.

Andrew: Takes me back to the racecourse.

John: Feel like I'm racing.

Andrew: Yeah, so I can't think of another beverage I would want besides the Coke or water on course. But for a snack, and they already have pretzels, and so this kind of, you know, you're taking gels that are always fruity flavors, you're taking you know, you're drinking your UCAN Elizabeth, you're drinking whatever your beverages and they're never salty in their flavor, so I always like having just like a salty snack like crunchy snack to chew on. So, I'll grab the Pretzels and then have some Pretzels here and there. But a far superior salty, crunchy snack to the Pretzels is the Cheez-It. There is no crunchy snack more superior than the Cheez-It. I love Cheez-Its. I have Cheez-Its all the time. You will never walk into the Harley household and open up the pantry and not see a box of family size Cheez-Its for me and my wife. We go through them like crazy. They're just nice classic salty carbs. And if Ironman would add cheese, just maybe in the little bags, just grab a bag and go and munch on it, chew on it, that would really help me cut through all the little sweet gels-- [crosstalk]

John: --the next aid station there’s Cheez-Its.

Andrew: Yeah. Yep, Cheez-Its, Coke, and water. Get me through the marathon.

On to the main set. Going in 3, 2, 1.

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So, I'm going to open today with a slight apology to all of our listeners. We all in every avenue of life when we see kind of any sort of list, it's always the who, what, where, when, why, how of doing something, right. And today we're going a little unconventional because when we started thinking through, all the questions we would have on setting goals we identified instead of the who, what, where when, why, how this is the why, how, who, what, when of goal setting, and we didn't even have a where, right, we just threw where out the window, you can set a goal anywhere, people. But today we want to talk through the why, how, who, what, when. Elizabeth, John, it doesn't quite roll off the tongue quite as naturally that way. But it's the way to go. Right? It's the way to go today. So, in talking through goal setting, let's start off with the W-H, what, when, all those words, the why. Why do we set goals as triathletes?

Elizabeth: So, when we're setting goals, it's not just for the sake of writing them down. This isn't a new year's resolution that's going to be broken into weeks or an unattainable wish. Goals are going to help identify your direction, your process, they're going to help you determine some actionable items, they help establish your priorities. I kind of like to say that we set goals to provide some long term vision and some short term motivation.

John: So, in triathlon we have, there are things we want to achieve. And oftentimes, we approach these on a year by year basis. The triathlon season is seasonal, so every year we have a new opportunity to set forth new ambitions to do new things. Sometimes it's doing something new. Sometimes it's going back and doing something we've done in the past and maybe doing it better or in our case, oftentimes faster.

Andrew: Faster, to go farther, faster.

John: So, when we set goals, it puts a lot of this into context. So, we don't just go out and train. We don't just go out and pick a race, sign up for a race, do all this training to be ready for a race, do the race and then it's over. So, when we set goals, it allows us to somewhat qualify what we're doing.

Andrew: Somewhat contextualize your season.

John: Yeah. And then as we'll talk through, having that goal can then establish certain actions, and Elizabeth mentioned that as well. So, it's a great way to even enhance what we're already doing. So, oftentimes, maybe even the race, maybe the race is already set. You signed up for an Ironman a year out. Now, here we are early in the year, the season is starting. What are my goals around that race, that event that's already there? Or maybe it's something that an athlete does every year. What do I want it to look like this year? What is my goal, what is my ambition? And oftentimes, that's the case for seasoned athletes is we'll go into the same race every year, year after year, and at some point, it's kind of like, well, let's just doing the same thing again. But if we can go and we can create a new goal, it's going to provide some freshness to that. It's going to be a fresh outlook, there's going to be a new excitement to it, and it's something to work towards. So, it's things like motivation and accountability, and all these things that make us better will come when we have that goal, and when we, as we'll discuss, evaluate that goal and update that goal as the process occurs. So, setting these goals can really qualify and even enhance what we're necessarily already doing. So, just because we have a goal, it doesn't mean we have to go and create something new, it’s really more so of how do we want to approach what we're already doing sometimes.

Andrew: So, Elizabeth I know for you, goal setting and being intentional is really important. And you joked on the podcast before, joking but not joking about how you literally have a sign in your pain cave that reminds you to be intentional. And so for you, you have your athletes that you coach at the beginning of the season do this, sit down, identify their goals for the year, and you talk to them about it. John, sitting right here with us, John is your coach, and you guys were telling me before we started recording that you guys had a three-hour phone call the other day just to talk through, and you didn't mean for it to go that long. But it was just you know, hey, let's talk about Elizabeth James professional triathlete, what are my goals for the season. And you guys talked to three hours about that and feel like you still have a little bit more to talk about. So, I know-- I say that to say I know goal setting is really close to your heart for all those reasons of being intentional. So, as a coach, what difference have you seen goal setting make for your athletes? And what difference has it made for you as an athlete?

Elizabeth: Yeah, there's a lot there. And you very well stated it is an intentional process for me. I would say that the structures and the purposeful planning associated with goal setting is very much a positive carryover from my profession in education previously. I assigned homework to my coached athletes much like I did to my students in the classroom. And the assignment that I give to my athletes is to set a big goal that they want to accomplish in one to two years. And then from there, we kind of work backwards, and establish some logical goals for the short term and the midterm, usually kind of three months or six to nine months from now, that's going to help us work toward that long term goal. And so a lot of the things that we said you know, about why we're setting goals, to help determine those actionable items in the short term as we're really looking long term with what we hope to do helping establish those priorities. This process has been a very beneficial thing for me as an athlete and just a great way to shape some conversations about enhancing the entire triathlon experience for the athletes that I work with.

Andrew: As you progress as an athlete, we talked about how you started off just as an age grouper, you've worked your way to being a top age grouper now a pro. How have your personal goals developed over the years? Like what are some concrete examples of goals you've set over the years?

Elizabeth: When I was starting off, a lot of the goals were to get to the finish line. And so I remember when I first started working with John in 2014, one of our first conversations was about my goal to finish my first Ironman, and to become an Ironman, to get to that finish line. And then you know, once that goal was accomplished, Then it was a new discussion of okay, what's next that we've met that goal? Let's establish a new long term goal and let's set up some things along the way that are going to help us get to that point. I distinctly remember the debriefing conversation that we had after Ironman Wisconsin. And I had told him that someday-- [crosstalk]

Andrew: Which that was your first one, right, Wisconsin?

Elizabeth: Yes. --that someday I want to race in Kona. And that was the big-- [crosstalk]

Andrew: And that became the big goal.

Elizabeth: --long term goal. And it was out there, but then we also needed to kind of go back as I mentioned with the athletes that I coach, and think about, okay, so what is that going to look like in the next three months? What is that going to look like in the next six months? It was a good year and a half after racing Ironman Wisconsin before I did another full. And so that wasn't just going to be a goal that was two years out there and the only thing down on paper. We established some things along the way to really make that goal a reality.

Andrew: So, we talked a little bit about the why and now, I think the biggest thing to cover is the how. I think we all recognize it's important to set goals. But for a lot of folks, it's how do we do that? And some people are better at that than others. I'm probably the athlete who's like, “Oh, yeah, I just signed up for this race and I want to finish it in under this time.” And to me, that becomes the goal setting. But there's a little more to it than that. So, let's get in a little bit, John, about how do we set goals? Where do we start?

John: So, I just want to echo Elizabeth’s statements there in that really even for me personally, seeing the way that she has throughout this whole process, as she mentioned, always had a goal and done what was necessary to achieve those goals, and she's done a fantastic job of doing that. And it's admirable to see that. And even for me, I'm kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum. Elizabeth is one of those people that writes down everything, makes list, and she's fantastic at writing down these goals and all the steps that she needs to achieve them. And then she’s even better than knocking them out. I'm kind of on that opposite end of the spectrum of kind of more laid back, more just kind of go with the flow, I don't write down a whole lot of stuff. But for me even seeing the power of that and seeing that initial goal that she had to finish Ironman on paper, and then being able to check that off, and then moving on through these other goals. And now there's, there's a lot of great stuff in the works. So, we're not done there. So, I'm excited to see where that process continues to.

Andrew: I know that and Elizabeth touched on this a little bit on how that there's a difference for her on the long term goal was Ironman. And then it became qualify for Kona at Ironman, and that was the long term goal. And then there were short term goals along the way. John, how do you talk to athletes about establishing their short term and long term goals?

John: So, I think oftentimes it can start as what are their expectations, and what are their ambitions which is kind of a goal. But you can even kind of start on that higher level of you know, for this season, and maybe even higher than that of in your triathlon career. We know for most folks, it's somewhere between five and 10 years the triathlon typical career will last. And start with a what do you want to achieve? Why are you doing this? Is this a health thing? Is it a competition thing? Is it a social thing? So, then once you identify what it is that you're in this for, then you can set things in place that are going to help you enjoy it.

Andrew: I’m in it for the on course Coke.

John: Yeah. The free Coke, free quote-unquote. And then from there, you get more specific. It's in this year, what do you want to do in this year? And as I mentioned before, you may already have like races and events that are already on the schedule already and on the books. Like okay, well, what is the purpose of this season? And then what is the purpose of each one of these events? And what do you look to achieve? And it doesn't all have to be centered around a race. As triathletes, typically, we all want to get faster, stronger, we want to see our split times drop, we want to see our power numbers go up that sort of thing. Things like our weaknesses, you know, do you need to spend a season focusing on your swim? Do you want to come out of this year a more efficient swimmer kind of a thing? So, there are a lot of things that we can do in establishing these goals. So, it's really what do you want to achieve and then from there, set those goals that are going to put the actions in place so that that is achieved at the end of the year, end of the season or the end of your triathlon career.

Andrew: Yeah, so if a long term goal is to maybe land a certain time on an Ironman, maybe the short term goal is improve your swim to a certain place or improve your bike power to a certain place so that you can finish that Ironman at that certain time.

John: Yeah. And there are 100 different variables, 100 different short term goals that you could do-- that you could set that conceivably would propel you to that bigger goal.

Andrew: So, yeah, John, let's talk about kind of some of the different goals athletes can set. Because I think to a lot of us, when we think goal setting, my mind automatically goes to time-based goals, right? I want to finish this distance in this time, I want to finish this distance and that time, I want to get faster, I want to finish an Ironman. I mean, we were all thinking of those kinds of high level, time-based race day goals. But sometimes there's more to it than that. So, what are some examples of goals athletes can have that maybe aren't race day based?

John: So, specifically in triathlon, there's a lot of things that we can do that are apart from or separate from that time-based goal or distance based goal that will set us up and increase our chances and can even be used as a strategy to achieve that goal. So, these are more intermediate goals. It's one of those things that I need to do in the interim, that is going to set me up for success as I approach this goal. Whether it be years away or months away, what can I do today to set myself up for success in that goal? That's actually something I ask Elizabeth on a regular basis as she's coming into her race season and there are events on the schedule. It's all about what can I do today to maximize results on race day? So, kind of little side conversation, but oftentimes or sometimes that has nothing to do with swimming, biking or running. Generally, it does. What is the best workout we can do today for that? But sometimes it's scratching a workout, sometimes it's modifying workout, sometimes it's sleeping in or taking the day off because that's what the body needs. And even those can be intermediate goals of having that. And I would say even an example of some of those non-race day goals would be things like that, to be flexible. Have that as a goal if you are so regimented and so structured, that you get stressed out and worried and just hate a day where you can't get in a workout or you get in a workout when perhaps you shouldn't, that can be a goal. That's what we kind of refer to as more of these lifestyle goals of having some balance and some structure in there that provides for that. So, that's not for everybody. Some folks need that regimented obligation to get up every day and do their sessions. But there's certainly a sweet spot. So, for some, a goal can be I want to be more consistent. That's kind of where I land naturally. I mentioned before, I'm kind of laid back, go with the flow. And so for me, it’s-- [crosstalk]

Andrew: But for some people, it's hard to lay down that workout, and it's hard to walk away and go to that family event that came up or to lay off a day because maybe their bodies aren’t up to it and they need a little rest. Like for some people, that's a hard pill to swallow.

John: And I work with a lot of those athletes and have over the years and so I absolutely empathize. Again, it's not me so much but to an extent, it is. But yeah, have those, set up those goals that allow you to be successful on race day. So, again, if being more flexible, if being more relaxed in your approach to your training is going to set up your overall training better, or again, on the opposite end of the spectrum of setting the goal of I want to get in at least three days a week of my training. And if you've been getting four, six is going to be fantastic. You’re gonna see big gains from that, and that's going to propel you towards the goal. And there's all these other things that are somewhat lifestyle related that will absolutely have positive impacts on race day. So, some of the super common ones are improving diet. Maybe it's kicking the Diet Coke habit or removing some of those unhealthy habits that you have.

Andrew: If you're focused on your time, and you’re just really pounding the swim bike and run sessions hoping to improve your time, but your diet is just-- you have a taco bell for dinner every night. I mean, you clean up your diet and you're gonna get way-- it's gonna go-- [crosstalk]

John: Absolutely. So, again, what are those things that are holding you back, and what can you do to mitigate those and to remove those obstacles? So, make that a goal and you know, as I approach this race as I approach my Ironman as I approach my whatever, I'm going to ambition to clean up my diet. And that's where, that's that first step and that's oftentimes the easy step. And as we'll talk about in a minute, it's what comes next, how is this executed? How is this evaluated? But the classic is weight loss, that's another one. If you're-- [crosstalk]

Andrew: If you’re doing Ironman Lake Placid this year, your goal should be to drop 10 pounds before you get to that race.

John: Yeah, almost if you're at a healthy weight, you need to drop 10 pounds for Lake Placid. But that's something that a lot of athletes face. I've always been an athlete that's carried around more pounds than I wish I did. And so as I have approached A races in the past, that's always been something for me is that I've wanted to drop as much weight as I could while maintaining my training and all that, so in a healthy way. And again, those are really more so lifestyle, things that have an impact on racing. So, reducing stress is huge. Improving amount of sleep and sleep quality, those can have huge impacts on race day.

Andrew: Yeah, if you're not sleeping enough at night, I mean maybe a good goal for the year is hey let's try to get 7, 8, 9 hours of sleep at night. Let's try to keep our body rested and recovered and ready to keep pounding.

John: And even if that means missing a training session or two per week you know, depending on how extensive the sleep deprivation is, you're better off missing a training session and sleeping in. So, it's all about again, what can we do every day to set ourselves up for success on race day?

Andrew: Some people are going to just hear you say that and be like coach John said that I can sleep in and never train, that's more important for our body. Context, people, context. You heard what the man said.

Elizabeth: But it is super important and I guess if I could just provide a concrete example with the lifestyle goals and how they go into both the short and long term goals. I'm currently working with an athlete and their big goal one to two years from now is to complete an Ironman. But they know that there are some things in the short term that they need to address before taking on the training to do an Ironman would really be a realistic, attainable possible goal for them. And so in the next year, they are working on cleaning up their diet and establishing better sleep routines. Because right now they're not fueling in a way and not sleeping enough to really sustain a training load.

Andrew: An Ironman training load, yeah.

Elizabeth: Mm-hmm. And so if we address those things first, establish them great habits, then the possibility of doing an Ironman and training for that in a safe and productive way to really maximize their potential does become a realistic long term goal. And so it's there. I mean, it’s already established that that’s a dream, that's a goal and they’re some things that are not race-specific. There are no specific race goals triathlon goals at all for this athlete in the upcoming year, but that's long term what they can be looking forward to-- [crosstalk]

Andrew: And whether it's Ironman or not, I mean, their entire health and any-- whether it's a sprinter and Ironman like it's like better nutrition, better sleep practices now will just lead to better fitness life for years and years and years, like that the payoff is huge.

Elizabeth: Oh, yes, absolutely.

Andrew: Yeah, even though it's not focused on the seasons. So, I wonder how many people enter an Ironman race phase or whatever they're A race is and while gearing up for that a race, that's when they're focusing on trying to clean up the diet and trying to establish good healthy sleep patterns. And so that's a lot to focus on all at once alongside of your training. But if you establish it first, and get good at those little things first, it's going to help you out down the road once you get in that training cycle.

John: I was gonna echo that as well. So, the sooner you can have the goal of prioritizing recovery or have the goal of implementing strength training into your training regimen, as you then approach those later on, and as your training becomes more insensitive, as your training becomes either higher intensity or higher volume later in the season as your race approaches, that's already going to be there. So, those are great intermediate goals that are going to set you up to where you don't have to implement all these things all at once. So, again, your training is going to be tough enough. You don't want to have to throw in there trying to sleep in, trying to eat good, trying to add strength training, and recovery and all these other things. Do that now. Earlier in the year, typically there's lower training volume, so there's more time you have that fresh start. So, it's kind of easier to implement some of these things. So, oftentimes these goals can then become habits. So, that's a great thing if these lifestyle goals-- Initially, it may be something that has to be worked on that. I'm going to get up and I'm gonna go to the gym and do strength training three days a week. Or I'm going to do recovery sessions three times a week. As they are goals, maybe for the first quarter of the year, throughout that first-quarter those goals have now become habits to where they're just part of your lifestyle now, and part of your training regimen.

Andrew: Would you look at that, goals becoming habits. That's the dream, right? I know for me, just talking this out without even realizing it like one of the things I've been focusing on here at the start of the year is stretching more. Stretching more, foam rolling more after hard sessions particularly, making sure that I'm staying loose and flexible. Because I mean, I my whole triathlete life, my whole sporting life like I mean I've seen it like if I keep-- if I work stretching into my regular routine, I usually stay fairly, pretty injury free and then as soon as I start neglecting that, things get tight, IT bands start acting up, knees, joints feel funny. And it reminds me I need to start stretching. So, going into the year I hadn't really thought consciously made that a goal like “Oh hey, this is gonna be a short term goal that's going to help me in my goal of finishing Ironman Texas.” But that's kind of what that is, that's the short term goal that I'm doing right now in my life, as lifestyle goal. Hey, let's get on top of that, let's every single day try to work 30-45 minutes of just stretching in, and it's going to pay off huge in my Ironman training and whatnot. So, without even realizing it, I was doing that. And I bet a lot of you listening have things you're trying to work on heading into the year that are great lifestyle goals, so keep them up, people. So, again, in thinking through the how and how to set goals, I think a lot of people come to us at TriDot as athletes and they say “Hey, I want to break six hours and a half Ironman this year. I want to go sub 11 in a full. I want to go sub six in my Ironman bike split.” And they have kind of specific time goals, and they come to us as coaches and say, “Can TriDot get me there?” John, what would you have to say to folks that are entering the season with that kind of a mindset, they're looking for TriDot to help them deliver on a certain race day time goal?

John: This is a very common question. It's very prevalent in the space and something I've seen, kind of have to shake my head at a lot oftentimes is, oftentimes that is the primary goal when an athlete is approaching a coach or a training system, and they have that time-based goal. And really, without reference or context, oftentimes, the coach says, “Yeah, we can get you to sub 11” in whatever the case may be. When really, they're just blowing smoke because they really don't know. And TriDot, again, is different in many ways. And this is one of the ways that TriDot is different. Every training plan created by TriDot has really two ambitions. We want to maximize the potential of each individual athlete. And then kind of the little caveat behind that is keeping them healthy. So, those are the two primary focuses, two primary objectives of every TriDot triathlon training plan or TriDot training in general, not even necessarily the plan. But that's what we look to do is maximize the individual potential of each athlete, and keep them healthy because the potential is no good if they're injured. So, that is actually how the TriDot training plans are created. They're not based around a number or a time, it's every phase, every session maximizes the potential of each athlete. So, when we get into here is, and we'll talk about this more as we discuss through goals is are your goals realistic? So, that can be something that's very relevant in this case is if your goal is a sub 11 Ironman, but really your potential is 12, you're kind of fishing in the wrong pond. And that's not a personal slam or anything like that. But-- [crosstalk]

Andrew: You are where you are.

John: We have limitations. Yeah. And not everybody is going to go sub 11 in an Ironman. And that's okay. But what is possible? What's out there for you? Or vice versa. What if your goal is sub 11? And you should be down in the 10:30 timeframe? What if you're-- Where does that number come from? What does that number mean? And that's really where we take a step back and say, have those time goals, chase your times do the work, let those motivate you. But what TriDot is doing is maximizing the individual potential. It's everything is individualized down to the athlete. So, it's less about the time and more about what, as an athlete are you possible-- what is possible for you? And then let's get into those prescriptive analytics to say, here's what we do to maximize your potential at this race.

Andrew: Yeah, so if I come as an athlete and I just, I'm gonna use myself as an example at the time we're recording this, I have Ironman Texas in a few months and I know I should land somewhere between 11:50 and 12:50, right, somewhere in that hour is where I'm probably going to land. And so if my goal, if I came to TriDot and was like, “Hey, I want to go sub 11.” Okay, well, I plug in my assessments and TriDot sees the 10K, I'm capable of the 400-yard swim, I'm capable of, the 20-minute FTP power that I have right now. Like, my body physiologically, in the next three months is not capable of an 11-hour Ironman. It's just not right. So, the important thing might be knowing okay, like I punched in those assessments, and I see where I'm at in my training, and if TriDot’s saying, okay, you should be able to finish around here. Maybe the goal isn't so much okay, I have to be married to this certain time. Maybe it's knowing, okay, my body's capable of finishing in this range. And the better I execute, maybe it should be more of an execution goal, the better I execute my race plan and thus, the faster I finish, the happier I should walk away.

John: And the other thing is even taking a little higher approach is if that time is a goal, maybe it's a future goal. And as we discussed having these intermediate goals to set that up. Because your potential at a race six months from now is not the same as your potential at a race next year, two years three years out. So, again, it's going back and identifying if you're an hour slower than you want to be this year, what do you need to do to remove that that hour? Again, is it recovery, strength training, weight loss? Whatever the case may be, use this year to have those-- set those goals for this year, so then next year, you can approach that time-based goal that now is feasible.

Andrew: So, I think the last question I'm going to ask in the how section, we've been talking about how to accomplish our goals for a while now because I think that's probably the biggest step. Right? Once we know we need to identify goals. Once we know what our goals are, how do we get there? And we've been talking about it for a little bit. The last question I'll ask is this, what are maybe some of the best forms or guidelines. And a lot of these, maybe we fill them out for our employer, maybe we filled them out back in school, when we were a student, but there's all sorts of little forms that have fun little acronyms that can help you kind of think through your goals and write the smart SWAT be hag, you know, there's some out there that people might be familiar with. But what is maybe a good worksheet if someone's looking to actually put their goals and how to achieve those goals down on paper?

Elizabeth: So, you touched on an important thing here that I mean, there are a lot of resources available, and there's a lot of great resources available. And I would say doing a Google search for goal setting worksheet is going to produce a number of results. And it's very likely that 90% of those are going to work. So, take a look at what's there, find something that you know matches your style of planning, and go with that. It's not as important with what worksheet you're using and what acronym is going to help you break down the steps in your goal. It's more important just to identify what is important to you, and then the steps to achieve it along the way.

Andrew: So, I promised the people at the beginning, that this would be the why, how, who, what, when of goal setting. So, we've talked a lot about the why and the how, but let's move on to the who. We know we're not supposed to be the lone wolf's on this. Who should we involve in our circle of trust, so to speak, on goal setting for our season?

Elizabeth: I would say you know, just to involve someone else. It doesn't have to be a particular person. Someone that has always been great for me is my coach, John. But if you're not working with a coach that-- [crosstalk] that doesn't limit you from involving someone else in this goal setting process. So, you need some honesty, some accountability from somebody else. A coach is a great person to provide that. But you can still get high quality objective feedback from a spouse, a friend, a training partner, but I would certainly encourage involving someone else in that goal setting process.

Andrew: So, we talked a little bit about your lifestyle goals and maybe some of the shorter term goals that will help us and the long term goals. And so maybe if I have a specific short term goal of I want to work in strength training, I want to clean up my diet, I want to improve my sleep patterns, is there may be value in adding a who to my circle, that's a specialist in those areas that can help me get to some of those short term goals?

John: Absolutely. So, in this case, whatever those are, there are folks out there that you can partner with that one, you can have that goal, you can be accountable, they can help you set that goal. What is your reasonable, attainable objective in that? So, things like I mentioned weight loss, maybe it's working with a dietitian.

Andrew: Instead of googling, like “Easy ways to lose weight.”

John: Yeah. But maybe it's partner-- there are folks out there that you can partner with that one, you can have that goal, you can be accountable, they can help you set that goal. What is your reasonable, attainable objective in that? So, things like I mentioned weight loss, maybe it's working with a dietitian.

Andrew: Instead of googling, like “Easy ways to lose weight.”

John: Yeah. But maybe it's part of what your spouse, if that’s something you do [crosstalk]

Andrew: Together, let’s go to bed early an hour.

John: Right. It’s gonna work better, you’re gonna set yourself up for success. It's going to be much more attainable if you have that buy-in of that person that's in it with you. But yeah consulting experts and coaches and that sort of thing, absolutely. It’s a great idea to involve more of the who. So, whether it be in the initial determining the goal, and then also those execution and achieving of the goal, involve the people that you need to involve, to again, set yourself up for success.

Andrew: I know in our household, we found very early in our marriage, like whenever we buy at the grocery store is going to get eaten. And so if we don't buy a lot of junk and a lot of sweets and snacks, it's not there to eat when you're snacking, right? So, maybe for the Harleys instead of buying the family size Cheez-It box, we should just buy the regular size.

John: 100 calorie packs.

Andrew: Help me not just eat a bunch of empty carbs. So, anyway, so let's move on to the what in our goal setting. What do we do once the goals are set?

Elizabeth: As much as I love setting the goals, this is the part that I get even more excited about because those goals are providing direction. And then from here, these are those actionable items, the steps that you get to take on a day to day basis to make progress toward those goals. One of the things that I think about a lot is just kind of this mastery mindset. And it involves shifting your focus from just achieving that one lofty goal that's out there one to two years from now to really executing on the process, that gives you the best chance of improvement over time as you continue to strive toward that goal. So, once those goals are set, then it is kind of the day to day process of thinking, what am I doing today to get closer to where I want to be in the future?

John: So, there's the great saying “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” and that's not what we're talking about here. I didn't say that.

Andrew: John Mayfield, the scribe and poet.

John: I quoted someone else in this. But that's so true if these are goals that we want to set. They're not wishes. So, the goal without the plan is the wish. So, this is a critical component of setting the goal. Setting the goal is primary, but setting those action items to achieve it, having the plan to achieve it is as important or more important in setting yourself up for success.

Andrew: So, Elizabeth, I know for you becoming a pro wasn't an accident. I mean, nobody accidentally becomes a professional triathlete. So, what was the what for you? What did you do once your goal was set to become a pro triathlete?

Elizabeth: So, it's interesting that you bring this up because I mean, you're correct. Becoming a pro wasn't an accident. It was years of consistently doing the right training right, and just the process of becoming better each day. What's kind of cool about this journey into racing as a pro is that though that was a goal, it didn't have a specific deadline. The goal was always just to better myself each day and to really evaluate how can I continue to make progress, maximize my potential, continue to enjoy training and racing, and really see what developed from there.

John: So, as Elizabeth did approach this goal, she did those things that she mentioned. She consistently did the right training right, and as opportunities begin to arise from that, she made those gains, she raced high enough to gain the experience and really dial in the racing skill. And then as all of this kind of came to fruition, it became more strategic and where are the races that she could, she could race that are going to provide her that opportunity. And then even in the weeds as during the race, what does she need to do in order to achieve that goal. And to her credit, she was able to do it, and achieve it, and going from a very high level down to very specific, very timely things, as far as years out setting the goal to become a professional triathlete to as minute as doing things within the actual race execution to make it happen all revolved around that goal and all led to that and were all steps in the process of achieving that goal.

Andrew: John, tell me for you because for you the what has kind of changed a little bit because your goals have kind of changed. And I think for every athlete out there you know, we use Elizabeth as a great example of kind of what she did to accomplish that goal. But for every athlete listening, their goals are gonna be a little bit different. And so the what, day to day they need to be doing is beyond daily training, it’s a little bit different. So, in your own triathlon career as a currently at the time, we're recording this a six Ironman finisher. And guys, John claims he's retired from the Ironman circuit. Elizabeth and I are telling him that the Ironman racecourse is far better with John Mayfield being a part of it. So, when you see John, encourage him to go for number seven. We're all excited for the day that John comes to his senses and realizes he's not done yet. But for you, from Ironman one to Ironman six, I've heard you talk a lot about how one of your big goals for an Ironman day other than to finish it is to enjoy the day. Right? So, how has that change and race day goals changed your what?

John: For me, it's more about mindset and actually, take a step back. I will do number seven when you do number two. So, Andrew has also said he's gonna be one and done on the Ironman course.

Andrew: Touche.

John: So, he's gonna be in retirement soon as well. So, maybe I'll do number seven when you do number two.

Andrew: I'll see you on the other side. I'll see on the retired side.

John: We're gonna be like those old guys retired on the bench watching everybody else race Ironman. [crosstalk]

Andrew: We’ll clean up on the 70.3 circuit.

John: But yeah, for me, it was throughout initially, it was kind of about completing and then it was about competing. And towards the end, it was much more I still want to be competitive, I still wanted to go out there and do the best I could.

Andrew: And you were.

John: But the mindset shifted along the way too. And that's something that I've learned just from being around triathlon and Ironman specifically for a lot of years is it's too much work to not enjoy it. It's too much pain and discomfort and all the things we go through. So, yeah, I was able to shift that and kind of develop that almost ancillary mindset of just enjoying it and being present and taking it all in.

Andrew: And that kind of gets us to the next part, which is the when. And we really want to talk about when do we reevaluate our goals? When do we reassess, okay, this was the goal, this is where we're at, let's kind of reevaluate and so John, that's a great example of doing that over the course of an Ironman career. So, Elizabeth, for athletes out there who are in their season, and whatever their goals are at what point in the season, is it appropriate for us to re-evaluate our goals?

Elizabeth: The revaluation process should be held very regularly. I know that I had mentioned earlier how I have my athletes create some short and long term goals. And so every few months, it would be ideal that one of those short term goals had been realized, and it's time for us to re-establish what that new three to six months goal from that time frame would look like. So, even though the beginning of the season is a very logical time to establish goals for the upcoming year, this reevaluation process is an ongoing thing. And as a short term goal has been accomplished, then that's a great time to really set up what the next short term goal would be while continuing to look ahead toward those long term goals and make some determinations of is this still something that interests me? Is this still something that excites me and motivates me? Is this still a realistic goal at this time frame? Did I make the progress that I was hoping to in these last few months to continue working toward that long term goal? This reevaluation process is very important and it highlights the importance for us to be flexible about those goals. And as we're reviewing these goals, often, I wouldn't say that it's beyond us to do this reevaluation process on a daily basis. We've talked frequently about what are we doing today to get ourselves closer and closer toward those bigger goals that we have?

Andrew: Yeah. And that's kind of a key question to really, daily to evaluate is what am I doing today? I know what my goals are, what am I doing today to help me get to those goals? Because that's kind of the definition of being intentional with your sessions, and with your time is thinking through intentionally what am I doing today? So, let me ask you guys this. As coaches, when one of your athletes accomplishes a short or long term goal, what do you do to celebrate? You send them a fruit basket in the mail, give them a social media shout out?

John: I've never done the fruit basket.

Andrew: Pop a bottle of champagne?

John: Maybe I should. It runs the gamut. But one of my favorite things is something that Elizabeth mentioned previously is asking the question of what next? I mean, what better time to set that next goal than right after the previous one is achieved? I mean, it's great context. You've achieved the goal, you know what you're capable of and want to go and find out what you're capable of next. I remember the first time I ever ended up on a podium at a race. It wasn't a goal to be on the podium. I just had a great race. I ended up on the podium, and I was like, “Wow, this is fantastic. This is fun. This is a lot more fun than not--” [crosstalk]

Andrew: ---all these people admiring my accomplishment.

John: So, that became my new objective in racing was I didn't even know that that was a goal. But once I achieved it and experienced, now, that was my intent in racing and it was for a number of years was to achieve that. So, yeah, once a goal is achieved, it’s a great time to set a new goal.

Andrew: I'm going to give a quick shout out to my Coach Ryan Tibble and let him know that when I accomplish my next goal, I expect flowers on my doorstep. So, red roses from Coach Ryan Tibble. So, final question. Now, this is actually kind of a bonus question. I wasn't planning on asking this. I promised the people that we would cover the why, how, who, what, when? But I just-- I can't walk away without the last one is the where. And I mean, obviously, the where should be the bubble bath, right? I should draw myself a nice long bubble bath, settle in and ponder my goals for the season. Right?

John: Well, I was actually thinking most of my life-impacting decisions are probably made on the toilet. So, maybe there. It was a great-- [crosstalk]

Andrew: So, we have a common bathroom theme here.

John: That's kind of what made it me think of. You know, Facebook posts and life decisions, those are both on the toilet. There was a great movie back in the day, it was like an 80s comedy. And it was like this con man, I can't think even who was in it or what the title was. But he came up with this concept of advertising on the back of the door of the toilet stalls. And it said, I remember the quote was, “Decisions aren't made in the boardroom. They're made in the bathroom.”

Andrew: Yes.

John: Maybe there's something to that. I think it was a Dana Carvey movie back in like the late 80s early 90s.

Andrew: Yeah, I know all the random warm up questions I asked you guys on the podcast I usually come up with not in the bathroom. I guess maybe a few but usually, it's on my bike trainer rides. You know, I've got an hour in a zone two Thursday ride, and I just sit there, “What ridiculous triathlon based questions can I ask them next?” So, I guess the where if we were really asking that question, the where could really be anywhere. I mean inspiration, an idea, you know, you could be on a long run and kind of think to yourself or you could be in the pool in the swim and realize, “Hey, maybe a goal for me this year should be cleaning up my swim a little bit.” I mean, the where for where the inspiration from a goal can come from could kind of be anywhere, right?

John: Absolutely.

Great set everyone. Let's cool down.

Andrew: After all that talk about setting and working towards goals and triathlon and in life, I just wanted to take a moment and cool us down today, real simply by introducing you to three tools that you can potentially use to help you crush through your goals. Now, I'm not a goal setter by default, so when researching a little bit for this show, I was reminded of a few goal empowering tools that I've used in the past, and some new ones that really intrigued me. And just to close this out today, I want to briefly highlight a few of these. Now, none of these people or companies asked me to talk about their products. This is all just straight up 100% genuine endorsement of a few things that I just found really interesting that you can check out and see if they might be helpful to you accomplishing your own goals. So, the first goal empowering tool I want to introduce you to is the Finish Calendar. The Finish Calendar is a very big and very fantastic wall calendar that shows you the entire year laid out in one place. It was created by Jon Acuff, a New York Times Bestselling Author, Conference Speaker and Expert in Setting and Finishing Goals.

Now, I discovered his finished calendar when I worked in television, we use a number of computer-based productivity tools to just keep track of when shows were taping when they were airing and what still needed to be done to help them along. And these online tools are really great, but on your computer screen, it can be really hard to see a macro view of the entire year at one time, and that's where John Acuff finished calendar comes in. As a TV producer, it helped me track show air dates. But as a triathlete, it can paint a very real and motivating picture of how close or how far away you are to those race days. I also like that I can put down key dates in my personal life as well; things like family vacations, weddings we plan to attend, work functions, church events, date nights, etc. Anything that me and my wife have going on in our personal lives so that I can really see what key training days are likely to be impacted by other events. Now, there's a paper version, but I really like the dry erase version that can easily allow you to erase and tweet key events and races as needed. So, you can buy your own Finish 2020 Wall Calendar at FinishCalendar.com, and it's just a really great way to see your entire year at one time on the wall with all your goals, start dates and due dates, all in one place.

The second goal empowering tool I want to give a shout out to is the Life Cycle App. There are plenty of apps that allow you to make to-do lists or track tasks that need to be completed en route to accomplishing a major goal. But the Life Cycle App is designed to track your time. Listen y’all, I'm a creative, so I can be a daydreamer, I can get sidetracked from my days, kind of big-ticket assignments by much smaller and less significant tasks that may be a little bit more interesting in the moment. If I'm not careful, I can get to the end of a day and have 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, that I really just didn't capitalize on. So, the Life Cycle App, really let you categorize your day. And with a few visits to the app during the day, you can track how you're using and spending your time, and more importantly, where you're kind of maybe wasting it. Using this app, I found really quick where those few visits to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. I can add up to enough wasted time that I could have used some of that time towards maybe an extra 30 minutes of stretching, maybe an extra 30 minutes of working or just relaxing, hanging out with my wife, or 30 minutes of making and drinking more coffee. So, spend your time on the things that matter to you by searching for the Life Cycle App in your phone app store to see if it's available, and a good fit for you.

The final goal empowering tool I want to talk about is maybe a little less tangible. Maybe to help your goals you need a new subscription. There are a lot of services you can sign up for at $5 to $20-ish a month that can help you get where you're going sometimes. Now, this is purposely a little vague because it really depends on your goal. Like maybe if you want to really dial in your day to day eating habits this year, maybe this is downloading a nutrition tracking app like My Fitness Pal or Chronometer, and maybe paying a few bucks a month to track your macro and your micronutrients and your calorie intake. Maybe you're like me and outside of the swim, bike, and run, you really want to build some functional strength and flexibility this year. And so maybe this is $20, 20 pounds, 20 euros for a basic gym membership that gets you access to some weights, or even a membership to a yoga or a stretching studio that can really help you increase your flexibility. And of course, I have to plug this one. If you aren't using TriDot to optimize training, and you're getting ready for that A race this year all on your own, maybe this is $9.99 cents a month for a subscription to TriDot. I'm a company man, so I had to plug TriDot y'all. Head to TriDot.com for more info about how we can optimize your triathlon training. But whatever your goal is, see if there is a service out there, see if there's a small ticket subscription that you can invest in using that can help you stick to some of your goals that maybe you just haven't had the tenacity to do all on your own.

Well, that's it for today folks. I want to thank Coach John Mayfield and Elizabeth James for talking about effective goal setting. Shout out to TriBike Transport for partnering with us on today's episode. Are you enjoying the podcast? Do you have any topics or questions that you want to hear us talk about? Head to TriDot.com/Podcasts and click on the submit feedback button to let us know what you're thinking. We'll do it again soon. Until then, happy training.

Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot Podcast with your triathlon crew. For more great tri content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Ready to optimize your training? Head to TriDot.com and start your free trial today. TriDot, the obvious and automatic choice for triathlon training.