Process Vs. Outcome

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, setting my yearly goals based on process instead of an outcome. Huh? Set a goal based on process? But it’s so much easier to base my goal on outcome. Instead of aiming for a podium at a race, aim for a goal time.

“I am committed to training to race a 40k TT* in less than an hour”
“I am committed to swimming a 1500 in less than 25 minutes”

Why? As Simon Whitfield’s coach, Barrie Shepley, said then one can celebrate the athlete’s success before the race even begins. They have done all the work, all the preparation to get them ready for their big event. That’s when you celebrate. And if the everything goes to plan a second celebration may also be in order.

How do you do it?
This will be a very individualistic process, but start with your global goal, whether it is distance-based (racing a certain distance), time-based (completing an event in a specific time), or committing to the training.

  1. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals: I’m sure many people do this unconsciously already but sometimes it’s useful to get a reminder of what is important to keep some perspective when training. In coaching I’ve learned that younger athletes need daily goals to stay actively engaged and committed to the process. But I have started employing that it my own training and work ethic. By making the goals creative, just like I do with the younger athletes I coach, I’m having a lot of fun while training. Pick a simple skill for that training session and use it as your daily goal.
  2. Keep a log book: Most of us keep a log of our training, how many kilometers we covered, how many minutes we were working out, reps at the gym. But it is also important to track your goals. At the beginning of your log book (or on a stickie on your computer if you’ve gone digital) write down your main goal. Go back and look at it and remind yourself why you’re working so hard. And sometime every week write down what your weekly goal is.
  3. It’s ok to reevaluate and reset goals: life happens, for better or for worse. Maybe your training is going really well; don’t sit there complacent. Set a new target to work towards, it will keep your mind fresh and engaged. But it’s ok when things out of our control get in the way of training…work, family commitments, injuries, etc… sometimes we suffer setbacks. It might be worth reevaluating your goals. Some fine tuning of your weekly and monthly goals can help you get back on track to reach your long term goal
  4. Have fun: don’t look at your training as ‘work.’ Most of us go to work everyday to work to afford to train and compete. Eliminate that stress at your workouts. Smile before an interval. Change your perspective, think of workout as a challenge not as hard or painful. Choose to enjoy your time exercising.

Why process vs. outcome?
Most importantly it has a metric, you can measure your path to success. Can you do complete your 30k run. Can you ride those TT distances in a specific time. Are your your interval times directly related to what your ultimate goal is.
If instead your goal is based on a place at a specific race then there is no way to measure if you are on a path to success. And it is more to difficult to celebrate your gains along the way. Conversely it is very difficult to assess the set backs and reevaluate how to get back on track.

In training I have found it useful to set weekly goals for myself. They keep me on track for where I am trying to get too. They remind me to celebrate my successes and to learn from mistakes and setbacks. And by setting weekly goals I am actively engaged, and I believe, more committed to my training.