It’s almost September. Fall is fast approaching, and winter will soon be knocking on the door. So, how are those summer goals coming along? Now, as we begin the descent toward “shoulder season,” is the perfect time to check in on your progress, evaluate your work and results, and re-evaluate your plan going forward.
Whether your goals were performance-based or more centered on personal achievement and satisfaction, no doubt you’ve been working to accomplish them, and have a good sense of how it’s coming along. Now it’s time to examine and critique, and decide where you’ll go from here. So, ask yourself some critical questions: What have I done to achieve my goals? Have I put in the work I set out to do? Have I challenged myself to reach that next level? Have I headed out the door each day with purpose and positivity? Most importantly, have I been enjoying myself? How am I feeling now, and where do I stand today relative to where I started, and where I wanted to be? How can I do better?
For some of us, the “big day” — whatever it may have been — has already come and gone. Perhaps we’ve already raced that big race, summited that peak, or achieved our so-many-days-in-a-row goal. If this is you, way to go! Even if things didn’t go quite as planned, give yourself a pat on the back for all you’ve done, and how far you’ve come. If you’ve already accomplished your goals, now is the time to stop and reflect on what worked well for you, celebrate your achievements, and make a plan to continue to build on that momentum. That also means, of course, that it’s time to set a new, higher goal for the season ahead. Keep challenging yourself!
If your big day has passed and you didn’t achieve your desired result, it’s even more crucial to evaluate your training and progress. Take a good hard look at not only the work you put in, but also how you treated your body and mind during that time (i.e. rest, nutrition, having fun!). There are so many reasons athletic plans can get derailed, and now’s the time to pinpoint them so you know what to change moving ahead.
Perhaps you were simply too busy to put in the hours you intended. Or maybe you put in too many hours, pushed yourself just a little too hard, and didn’t take a step back when you needed it. Maybe you feel like you’ve lost your mojo, and simply don’t have the desire you used to. Whatever the reason you may have fallen short of your goals this summer, find it, and figure out how to change it. Do you need more rest? More intensity? Longer hours? More structure? Less structure? Remember that the only true “failure” is not learning from your experiences.
So take all you can from what you’ve done, adjust your plans going forward, and onward you go! Give yourself credit for the progress you have made, and remember that that progress is always building, season after season, and we as athletes are always evolving. Also remember there’s still plenty of time get out there. Set a new small goal for yourself for the fall, get a head start for next year, or just make the most of doing what you love!
If you’re like me, you’re still a work in progress this season, still plugging away at some of those big goals. But there’s no time like the present to really look at where you stand, and make any necessary adjustments to your training plan ASAP. Evaluate what you’ve done so far, what goals you’ve already accomplished or what benchmarks you’ve hit (or missed), and what has worked well and has not. Most importantly, evaluate how you’re feeling now heading into these final weeks. Do you need another good push, or is it time to start winding down? Are your goals still appropriate? Maybe you need to set the bar a little higher, or lower. Challenge yourself, but be realistic. Be flexible, and be willing to adjust.
We all want to get to our destination as quickly and as smoothly as possible. But it usually doesn’t work that way. There are bumps in the road, or unexpected detours. Unless we take the time to look around, we won’t know the best way to navigate them. And in the end, even if we end up somewhere entirely unplanned, it’s the journey there that makes us grow, and readies us for our next outing. It’s the journey we remember. So regardless of where you stand against your goals, get out there, make the most of what’s left of your season, and enjoy your journey.
— Kara LaPoint is an elite amateur triathlete competing for LUNA bar, and working up to the pro ranks. She has earned numerous overall amateur podium finishes and age-group wins across distances from Olympic to Ironman, and finished the 2011 season ranked as an All-American nationally among her age group (25-29). Read more about her racing and training at www.karalapoint.wordpress.com. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.