Goal Setting and planning

We are all setting goals for ourselves, sporting or otherwise and whether it is to complete a 5 or 10km race or to go under 8 hours for an Ironman.  You are much more likely to reach your goal if you plan how you are going to achieve it and execute that plan

Like New Year resolutions its all too easy to lose your way if all you decide is that that you are “going to do something”. Goals are best divided into Short, Medium and Long Term goals. each of which ideally improves the chances of reaching the others. Adding accountability of achieving those goals increases the chances of success

An example of a short term goal would be to “complete a specific training session or block of sessions as prescribed or planned”.

A Medium goal might include a race as a stepping stone – “to complete a 5km in 35 minutes before 1st June”

Your long term goal might be your target event or even longer ” to qualify for Kona by 2020″

Anyone who has come within 100m of a management consultant or who has run a business is likely to have come across a “SMART” goal and it’s variants – which are many!!

If you are not familiar Goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable,  Relevant, Timed.

It also helps to think in terms of “What, How, and When.”

As an example I am aiming to complete IM 70.3 Weymouth within 5:30 or less (5:00 would be brilliant but I have to question myself as to whether this is “Attainable” this year) so we have:

Specific: IM 70.3 Weymouth

Measurable: 5:30 target

Attainable: This represents going about 20 minutes faster than last year and would put me higher up the Age group rankings but not the winner in my AG so its within possibilities with consistent training. 4:30 is sadly beyond my capabilities!

Relevant: This is more applicable to interim short and medium term goals, so diving to 10 metres would not help the main goal while competing in an Olympic distance Tri would.

Timed: I have to prepare to do this by 23rd September 2018.

How do we do this? This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but hopefully contains some good ideas.

PLAN! You will need a training plan, from a coach, from the Internet, from a book etc. Most importantly in my view work training times into your life, not the other way round and select a plan you can achieve. Coaches will do this for you, be careful with generic plans as continually failing to complete sessions is demotivating and could damage your chances of success. We have recently helped a young lady who was trying and consistently failing to keep to an unsuitable training plan sent out by a race organiser. Rather than her stressing about getting further behind we got her to look at where she is now and redrew the plan in a more achievable way.

Put training into the diary to set time aside for it, liaise with other family members or employers where possible to keep to your allotted times. If there is a set time you are much more likely to complete the session.

Be flexible as your goals may well have to shift during a season to adapt to changes in your availability, injury, illness, or other factors outside your control. There is nothing to be gained by stressing about something you can’t change so adapt, reset and go forwards again!

Make your goals public and the specifics of them too. Tell your friends, family, social media. “I’m going to complete an Ironman” is easily lost and forgotten and has an unsaid “sometime”. “I’m going to do Ironman Bolton on 18th July” is not. Accountability is a wonderful motivator.

Be realistic, completing an Ironman as your first ever triathlon is possible but not the best way to go about it, you will need to set aside large chunks of time and if you don’t have it or a solid endurance base already then you may be dooming yourself to failure.

Know HOW you are going to go about it and what you need to do. Does your chosen event have cut off times?That should be your first focus. So swimming must be better than 3:30 per 100m for a Half Iron Distance race – suddenly you have a medium term target! You will need to cycle at least better than 13mph on average over 56 miles, if you can’t do that yet then there is a focus to work on. you need to be fit enough to complete a half marathon in the time left after everything else.

A more experienced athlete can look at specifics. Where can improvements be reasonably made and what are your “limiters”?

Build enough rest and recovery into your training blocks, you need to allow yourself to adapt to the training, and to be able to complete later training sessions competently.

Train with others where possible, especially those slightly faster than you. again accountability and peer pressure can help you stick to the plan. Choose carefully however as not keeping up with others can also be demotivating.

Be “present’ and focussed on training not your iPod, work problems or what you’re having for dinner. have a goal or purpose for each session and try not to waste time and energy on “junk miles” just because you think you should be doing more, but, don’t stress about the odd missed or curtailed training session as they don’t matter in the long term, however it is important that sessions are completed where possible.

it is likely that you will suffer illness and injury along the way, don’t try to train through it as the chances are that you will have to take more time off as a result.

I recently heard this analogy from the great Malcolm Brown who worked with the Brownlees amongst others.

“Training is like building a brick wall, you need to focus on placing each brick while not losing sight of the end goal of building the wall in the shape you desire. It doesn’t matter if the odd brick is missing or misplaced but too many missing and the wall will fall down”

David Lester

1st February 2018

contact us on 07540309812 or via DLCoaching.net


Season over….What now?

So, we’ve reached the end of the season….now what?

You’ve been following a tightly prescribed training programme, you’ve been looking forward to your “A” race and now it’s all over. If it went well you are enthused and want to do another, if it went badly you crave the redemption of succeeding next time. There is nothing on the horizon and a feeling of loss of the structure and the goal. What can you do about it?

ENJOY: if you fulfilled your goals bask in the success, wear your finishers T shirt and bore your friends! If you didn’t then grieve, accept and decide to come back stronger/fitter/faster/better prepared.

RECOVER: That doesn’t mean do nothing! Endurance exercise induces muscle damage and an inflammatory response. Complete rest for at least 2 days, maybe 3 depending on how you feel. Then go for an easy 30 minute swim or similar length bike. I always favour swimming first as it involves no impact at all and generally the most damage is done to the lower body, especially in long distance events. Moderate activity will help you recover better than doing nothing. The next day go for a longer cycle or swim (whichever you didn’t do the day before) say up to 45 mins. Your body will still be depleted after a long distance race so will likely tell you what is enough. If you have avoided any injuries you might then try a 20 min jog the day after that. Research suggests that 2-3 weeks of active recovery may be advisable after an Ironman to deal with all responses.

ACCEPT: that it is impossible (or at the very least counterproductive) to attempt to stay at the level you have reached to peak for your race. Training hard works because it breaks down the body which then repairs itself and does its best to be stronger to deal with the next period of training. Constantly training hard means full adaptation doesn’t happen and risks both physical and mental burnout.

DONT: Keep eating as though you are in full training as you will quickly pile on the pounds. There is no need to take gels or energy drinks on training sessions of under an hour as you will not deplete glycogen levels enough to require supplementation.

PLAN: Identify races for next year, what are your goals and how are you going to achieve them? This is probably a great time to consider a coach to help with those questions.
MENTALLY RECOVER: have a break from structured training, do what you want, make best of any good weather, different events, no-Garmin rides to the Pub or tea shop, try something different like off road running, cycling etc.

TAKE STOCK: pluses and minuses, areas to work on, limiters, now is when you have time to improve swim stroke, pedalling technique, running stride pattern.

MAINTENANCE TRAINING: Once recovered try to keep as much of that hard earned conditioning and resistance to injury, aim for at least 5 hours training per week and preferably more split between your sports.

BUILD: This is a good time to work on strength and conditioning, including core work (but not endless crunches) stretching, and building resistance to injury. In particular this is a good time to work on all parts of the body and not just those directly involved in your sport.

FOCUS ON DIFFERENT GOAL: Late autumn and early winter is a good time to work on different goals like 10k or stand alone Half Marathon PB etc.

SPEND TIME with family friends and those that have supported you through all the hours spent training and the new come back and smash your goals for next year!

7 days to D(orchester) Day!

In the second of our blogs aimed particularly at first timers the lead up to the Dorchester Dash Triathlon we will look at some dos and don’ts in the last 7 day…


Smash yourself training. Trust us, nothing you do this week will make you faster (research suggests it takes 4-6 weeks for the body to fully take on board training loads) but you could make yourself slower!

Panic. Don’t try any new kit or anything you haven’t practiced on race day.

“Carbo load”. The body is very efficient at hanging on to extra carbohydrate by converting it to fat. With appropriate rest and tapering (see below) and just eating normally the body will have adequate stocks of Fuel. Anything over those needs is likely to be laid down as body fat.


“Taper”. Keep training in the week up to the race, reduce the volume but train at the same intensity. Short sessions in each discipline will keep your body ready to race without being worn out.

Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water each day to ensure your body is topped up. You may visit the loo more at first but the body should start to retain more.

Practice Transitions. Visualise what you will do, once you have that in your head lay out your kit and practice getting ready for the bike leg. For the second transition, again, lay out kit ready, go for a short bike ride then quickly change when you get back. Go out for about a 10 min run. These practices should help you to work out what order to do things in.

Arrive early on race day, make sure you take the time to….

*learn which way you come out of the pool

*where your bike is racked

*where you have to go to get out on the bike

*where you need get on and off the bike

* where you have to run out of transition.

Warm Ups

The body is a complex machine and a whole series of complicated actions and reactions begin when you start to exercise. I have set a few out below*.

You may wonder why it is important to consider warm ups at all. Regardless of your ability, level or sport, preparing your body for the effort it is about to make is vital to ensure that you’re able to put in your best performance. Being aware of how the body reacts to race pace effort is instructive. You should warm up for training sessions as well as races although in training the warm up can be part of the session and should be if it is an interval workout.

The primary objective of any warm up is to prepare your body for the stresses that it will be subjected to in the effort that’s about to begin. A warm body is more ready for the effort, and less likely to get injured. As described above, your body is undergoing complex metabolic processes, and the goal of a good warm-up is to warn the body to get ready for the effort involved and get those processes moving.

When racing to suddenly go from standing still to trying to go at race pace particularly in short intense races, is to suddenly overload those systems and cause the body to have to try to catch up with itself. That is likely to involve shortness of breath and faster, shallower breathing, In swimming or Triathlon you are of course already restricting and trying to control your breathing so that’s the last thing you need. To go as hard as possible on cold muscles and ligaments is to risk injury.

The sudden increase in activity, a struggle to get enough oxygen in and the adrenaline of a race start can push you into an anaerobic state, and if the body is struggling to catch up with everything going on you will stay that way for longer. The overall effect is more likely to result in a panic in an open water event.

An effective warm up reduces that effect  because your body will have the ability to more quickly deliver glycogen and oxygen to struggling muscles, lungs and circulatory systems are “warmed up” delivering more blood to muscles and carrying away waste products and the hormones associated with exercise have been released into the system. The process of providing extra glycogen from the body’s stores will be triggered.

How much should I do? The answer will depend on the length of the event and the intensity of the effort. High intensity sprint races will require a longer warm up possibly of 15 minutes starting at a low intensity but building towards the level of effort you intend to work at in the race, or if it’s a short training run, simply running slower for the first mile and increasing speed as you go, will suffice. Mimicking the sport in your warm is also advantageous… Swimming easy efforts then faster efforts if you are doing an open water swim for instance… Just for a few minutes if time is tight, will help get your aerobic system fired up for the efforts to come.

If warming up for a Long Distance race you are likely to be working at aerobic pace anyway so a shorter more gentle warm up will suffice. Try to finish the warm up as close to the start as possible although the race start format may well dictate timings. Remember the goal is not to wear yourself out but to prepare you for what’s to come.

Take advantage of the opportunity to swim before the start if offered by the organiser (and if they don’t why not?) and take the opportunity to acclimatise to the water, dip your face in, take it out and repeat several times to try to avoid an “Ice Cream Headache”. If you can’t get in the water don’t just wave your arms about vaguely, jog around to get the blood flowing, mimic the swimming stroke in warming arms up, do dynamic stretches and move head and neck.


*As the Muscles demand more fuel – principally Oxygen and Glycogen (produced from the body’s stores initially) – Arteries and veins will constrict or dilate, rapidly redistributing blood flow to meet the demands of exercise. During exercise, the arteries dilate in the principal working muscles and blood flow increases through the smallest vessels (capillaries), which were previously closed. The increased flow of blood to the muscles increases the exchanges of oxygen, the release of heat and the metabolisation of  lactate (also called Lactic acid) and removal of carbon dioxide.

The body will begin to convert Lactate to glycogen in the Liver to make it available to the muscles.

The nervous system prepares the body for exercise by secreting hormones signaling dilation of the blood vessels in the heart and working muscles, and secretion of hormones in inactive tissue to constrict those blood vessels. With training, these systems act more efficiently and rapidly to redistribute blood.

Blood redistribution can take several minutes; starting exercise abruptly doesn’t allow these changes to occur smoothly. An abrupt start can leave you breathless and strain unprepared muscles.