Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goal Setting and Placing

A good topic came up the other day, and I thought I would throw my two cents into the mix.  I would be interested in knowing what people think or how they place their focus in response as well.  When racing, do you set goals for your self and base your success on those goals, or do you get more satisfaction getting a medal?

I have learned that on any given day, you could medal.  All it requires is the people faster than me staying home.  It also works the other way.  One race you may have the top 10 field of local athletes show up and crush your hopes of placing.  Luckily this logic flows from Age Groupers all the way to professionals.  The intriguing part to me is the responses people give. 

Age groupers(Bottom and Middle of the Pack): Although I tend to shy away from these types of phrases, it helps to get the general idea regardless how you classify each.  I have seen the majority that fall into this category respond by saying they base success on personal goals they have set.  Maybe it is to just finish the race, that their bike split averages 19 MPH or they beat their time from last year.  All are very realistic goals for this category of racers.  Often seen as not having a shot at medals, their focus becomes on competing to reach these goals. 

FoP Age Groupers: Here is where things get sticky.  These are the people who can start to go either way very easily.  Some people are highly motivated by recognition and race to place.  Others are still very goal oriented and base success on their accomplishments.  I would say this is where I fall.  I have the understanding that any given race, I cannot control who will be there, how they perform, or any external conditions.  The only thing I can control is how I run my race.  Sure throw in flats, winds, heat/humidity and you have some parts that are beyond your control. 

My reasoning for this area is that I still base my success on my personal performance.  If that performance on that given day puts me at the top of the age group, so be it.  I am not out for the money that is for sure.  I am not out for recognition, because frankly I couldn't tell you the name of 1 winner of my AG last year.  There is just some hidden stigma that I cannot quite put my finger on that drives me to want to place. 

Maybe it is a small piece of recognition of the hard work that I have put in, and where it has helped me grow. 

Then comes the areas I am not as experienced to talk about.

Elites:  Sometimes a monetary prize, others fancy swag, and sometimes spots in future races.  Many of these rewards are given to people who place.  Does this shift how people prioritize?  If you want a shot at Clearwater, you have to race and place in order to qualify.  Placing then seems like a fair goal to have in mind.  Again you cannot control who shows up and how they will race that day.  Keeping in mind typical times can correlate to qualifying times or performance, but only to some degree.  Take for example a qualifying race.  If some participants pass on a qualifying spot, it may roll down to the 5th, 6th or 10th finisher. 

Pros:  I cannot even begin to imagine how they think.  I think goal times/performance is considered, and with their experience, I believe they know within a fairly close range what their finishing time will be.  If my paycheck was related to my performance, I would probably be more oriented towards placing, but that is just speculation. 

This is just my take on the grand scheme of things. Take it as you will.  I once heard a quote that I often think about as I see myself grow in the sport and although I have not lived much of it thus far, I believe it is applicable to the sport and many things in general.

"Success leads to confidence, confidence leads to arrogance, arrogance leads to complacency, and complacency leads to failure"

I have not become arrogant yet, I am becoming more confident as I see my progress.  While I have a long road to continue developing, I aim to keep myself from getting arrogant or complacent. 


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