by Sam Hudson

At the end of each race season, like most triathletes I like to take a few weeks to a month out before even thinking about what goals I’ll be setting for the year ahead. I’m sure the routine is familiar: picking out some key races you’d like to target, and maybe thinking about some finishing time or position goals that you’d like to achieve.

In a normal year these would be your big focus for the season ahead, a benchmark that keeps you pushing until the finish line and allows you to put your legs up at the end of the season and celebrate.

This year for all of us will be different, and that goes for setting goals too. For me, 2020 was a year of constant uncertainty, pushing my training and racing goals back or scrapping them all together. Race cancellation after race cancellation left most of us, I’m sure, with nothing more than a feeling of a wasted season with little achieved.

This doesn’t mean that we ditch the idea of goals -- but we become smarter in how we set them.

I do not set New Year’s Resolutions, but my fiancée did this year and she kept it simple. She wants to make the bed every day. Now that may seem silly but given everything going on, that is a straightforward goal that is completely in her control to achieve. There is little that can get in the way of making the bed (unless lockdowns really get out of hand).

For 2021 a smaller, more achievable approach to setting goals is the smart way to go. There’s nothing more deflating than reaching your A race, feeling like you’re completely ready to smash your target and then have it taken away from you.

Like many triathletes I do this sport because I love racing, I love the competitiveness, the travelling to new locations and meeting new people. But I also love to train, to improve and to top my own performances.

For instance, local races which require minimal travelling should be the most likely for us all to compete at and so targeting times or positions for those is a great goal to have. You can keep some big goals, such as breaking 5 hours over a 70.3 or getting on the podium at your A race for the season.

But what if they get cancelled? What if COVID-19 continues into 2022 and it’s another year of no travelling, no racing? Does that mean you throw another year of training in the bin? No way. We remove this uncertainty from the equation by introducing goals that can be achieved regardless of what else is going on: goals like running a half marathon, or a new 10k PB, or to add 20 watts to your FTP. There is nothing to stop you from achieving these goals and having an entirely successful season.

the author on his way to a 10K PB outside of a race

By setting goals this year that you can achieve just by committing to training, anyone can still have a great year of fitness and achieve goals. These may not make the news but can satisfy our cravings to compete, even it is only against ourselves.

Sam Hudson is an MX Endurance Race Team ambassador.