Studying for my Sport Psychology test tomorrow got me thinking about the training goals I've set. I have one big goal right now (Lapland Ultra) and some smaller goals (to maybe do a marathon in April). But, according to Weinberg and Gould (Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2011), it is important to set not only outcome goals (like to win a race or to climb a mountain), but also performance and process goals. Performance goals entail focusing on improving certain aspects of your -you guessed it- performance, like setting a new personal record, while process goals are things that you need to do in order to improve your performance, like technique training, visualisation etc.
Performance and process goals are shields against obstacles and stepping stones on the way to the outcome goal. They are the road, so to speak, to reach your destination. They help you stay motivated and can make a daunting task shrink to normal proportions.
I have been focusing on my outcome goals a lot, without giving so much thought to what I need to do to get there. But if there is one thing that past experience (read: injuries) has taught me, it is that I need to concentrate more on the building blocks and less on the result. Otherwise it becomes too easy to get swept away by enthusiasm, forget to enjoy the process and end up mindlessly chasing after kilometres.
So, here it is, my revised plan for the six months that lead up to Lapland Ultra:
Outcome goal: To run Lapland Ultra, or at least as much of it as I can, and have fun doing it.
Performance goal: To increase my weekly mileage according to my schedule.
Process goals: To build a stronger body by training at the gym and running. To build a stronger mind by doing mental training (you won't get far in an ultra without it). To treat my body with kindness and give it the fuel it needs to perform and feel good. And to practise more on my running technique by doing at least one of my runs each week in VFF - weather permitting.