Looking back on this past weekend at Victoria 70.3 I was very happy with the performances of my athletes. However, some did have the opportunity to perform better.
I was discussing this with some of my athletes last night. Great performances are a product of the execution of a plan and the ability to successfully navigate the challenges of the event.
Most often when successful execution happens, the intended outcome (result) happens. However, in order to learn from successes, and also understand the reasons for falling short of our expectations, it is important to take a moment to reflect. Debriefing race performances is a very powerful tool I use with my athletes to learn from performances and make improvements.
In any situation in life that you have planned for, whether it be a race, important meeting or discussion, key training session, or important event, taking a moment to reflect on outcome is crucial to your own growth, development, health, and future performance.
Simply put, you need to ask yourself 3 simple questions:
1. What was good about my performance (i.e., did I make any decisions that I feel positively impacted my performance)?
2. What was bad about my performance (i.e., did I make any decisions that I feel negatively impacted my performance)?
3. What do you feel are my most important action steps for improvement?
Notice how these are behaviour based reflections. Many athletes want to only evaluate pace and time as the only important reflection of their performance. However, its often the various decisions and subsequent actions made throughout the race that directly effect the end result (finish time).
Now look, having an outcome goal (i.e., intended result) is important. Outcome goals create motivation, challenge, and provide incentive and structure to the preparation for your target event.
However, in the heat of the event it's the decisions you make and actions you take that directly effect the end result.
So how do you dial in your optimal mindset to set you up for your best performance?
Here is a powerful three step action plan:
Step 1: Identify the outcome you want to achieve in terms of good, better, best? This could be time, placing, rewarding of a contract, etc.
1. Good outcome is a result you would be satisfied with. You would be happy with this outcome as you feel its a fair reflection of your preparation and effort.
2. Better outcome is above your expectations. This outcome will be beyond what you thought realistic for yourself.
3. Best outcome is your big audacious goal. This outcome would far exceed your expectations. Put is out there. Give yourself a chance to make it happen.
Step 2: Identify the processes (i.e., behaviours and actions) that need to happen in order to achieve your good, better, best outcomes you identified above. For many this is challenging because this is about identifying what you need to be focused on and thinking about during the event to perform at your best.
If you just think it's about swimming, biking, and running at a certain speed/power/pace you are missing the reality that the environment you are racing in and situations you face during will impact these targets (heat, cold, terrain, equipment failure, etc.)
Let me make this very clear, it is having clearly outlined behaviours and actions that you will execute during the race that will lead to you achieving your intended outcome.
Examples of behaviours and actions:
1. Technique focus (i.e. what about your form is important to focus on so you are as efficient as possible)
2. Mindset (positive thoughts, negative thought stopping strategies, when things get hard what are you going to tell yourself to persevere and thrive)
3. Hydration and nutrition plan (have a plan A, B, and C depending on various situations - heat, stomach trouble, loss of fuel, etc)
4. What if's (see my post here) - dealing with unexpected situations.
5. Pacing and strategy - have plan(s) for specific terrain, environment, and conditions.
Step 3: Write these process goals down. Make them part of your race plan. Execute these during the event and you will give yourself the best chance of success.
Be prepared, present, and positive.
Bottom line - great performances and results happen when you execute your process plan to the best of your ability on the day.
Be your best in the moment you are in. Then your end result will really matter.
P.S. One of the best ways to thrive in stressful situations is having the right perspective and mindset. I strongly encourage you to take a couple of minutes to read this article. If you choose, it will change the way you perceive and deal with stress. Dealing with a Killer Called Stress.