Is my goal realistic?

Recently I have been talking to some of the members and helping them outline their goals.

Having a goal is really important aspect to training, as it allows you to have true focus, however there is one area that in my mind many of us are having trouble with, which can slow down progress before we even begin… is my goal realistic?

By realistic, I mean measurable and attainable in a realistic time frame. If we set ourselves a goal that is essentially a very, very long way off we can come disheartened when the process takes a long time. It is great to have these long term goals but it is equally important to set shorter term, more readily available targets to keep you motivated and on track.

I’m a fan of giving myself a time period of three months to reach a particular goal, this is short enough to stay focused but long enough to make some real progression. By making sure the goal is realistic chances are you achieve it, and are able to reward yourself. This means you can then progress onto your next goal. As these incremental victories build up you’ll make marginal gains towards your big long term goal.

The aggregation of marginal gains is an approach made popular by Sir Dave Brailsford. The concept is a one percent improvement in everything you do and can be applied to many aspects of life including fitness.

Here is some background on the approach…

Brailsford is a cycling coach, and in 2003 he became the performance director of British Cycling.

At the 2004 Olympic games, Great Britain won two cycling medals, which was their best performance since 1908. Over the following years British cycling became a powerhouse, leading the cycling medal table at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games winning 8 golds at both. They were equally successful at the World Championships, winning 59 titles between 2003-2013.

In 2010 Brailsford also became the manager of Team Sky, a new British based professional cycling team and in 2012 and 2013 Team Sky won the Tour De France with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.  

So how did he do it?

Brailsford’s took the 1% improvement approach and applied it to all areas of his sport. He believed that if you make many small changes you end up with a large improvement. Brailsford first looked at making things like nutrition, training programmes and setup of the bikes as effective and efficient as possible. He didn’t stop there though and went on to find 1% improvements in other areas, for example finding pillows that offered better sleep and bettering the quality of air his athletes breathed.

So what can we take from this for personal development?

When we’re looking at improvement/change we often focus on the large end target or goal. This could be increasing your squat, doing a 10km or getting a quicker Fran time. However if you just focus on the 1% components like quality of movement or consistency then these adaptations are not only more achievable and implemented easier, the results still add up and in the long run can have as big an impact.

So start to make these 1% changes and goals when you’re in the gym, eventually these positive acts become habits and bring results. The truth is that most big events in life don’t just happen. They are instead the sum of all the actions we choose to do, 1% better or worse.    

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

So ask yourself the question today… do I have a specific goal and is it something I can readily work towards over the next three months to see genuine improvement?

Come and speak to me if you are unsure about this question and make sure your training has real focus.

Coach Phil

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