This year, I’ve been approaching my training very differently than in the past. I found at the beginning of my pre-season (or post-season – I dunno) training that I was having some difficulty executing my workouts with consistency. I was tired. I was achy. I was unmotivated. I was whatever I needed to be at the moment to justify NOT doing the workout. That’s when I began contemplating the difference of intentions versus goals (thanks to my friend Kelsey at Find Your Awesome – def check her out on instagram and FB). I realized that much of what I had been using as motivation for my workouts – my goals – were not enough to get me through the times when those goals seemed far away. So, for example, when I’m feeling really tired from work and perhaps didn’t sleep exceptionally well the night before, I would be more likely to skip a workout that afternoon because “I worked out this morning, already, and I’m tired from…” and then go on to list all of those other factors in my head. Goals are important to have and they provide a great deal of guidance but I found that goals alone where not enough for me. That’s when I began to look inward, to examine my purpose in having these goals and in executing these workouts.
I began to explore my intentions. Why did I want to train for triathlon? Why am I getting up at 4:15 a.m. to go to a swim workout? What is the point of trying to hit a particular interval time on the track? I set my intention to be curiosity and growth – I approach my workouts with a desire to know more about me and what I am capable of, as well as a desire to growth as an athlete and to grow in my fitness but also to grow as a human being. With this mindset, rather than saying “I’m tired so I’m probably not going to hit my paces,” I will say to myself, “I wonder how being tired will impact the experience of this workout.” My goal may remain the same, for example, I may still be aiming to hit my 400s in 1:31, but my intention is to find out more about how my body is functioning and what I am capable of overcoming and I can meet my intention even if I am not able to accomplish my goal. At first, I REALLY thought that Kelsey’s references to intentions (versus goals) was just semantics but as I am practicing this in my own training and even in my work, I’m finding this to be extremely relevant. It’s as though I’ve shifted my mindset entirely but only rephrasing my self-talk very slightly. It’s leading to more consistent training. I was able to achieve a solid 4 weeks of training with very minimal alterations to the volume of prescribed work. It’s leading to more satisfaction in my workouts, more mindful engagement, more flow.
Rather than writing off my speed workout when we had some significant local storms, I headed for the treadmill. I did not enjoy this workout particularly and had actually be looking forward to running on the track for once but I did get the training in as scheduled for the most part… and won the award for “sweatiest person in the gym.”
I will definitely be writing more in the future about my experiences with this new approach, as well as my recent efforts to connect more with positive psychology, but I would also like to hear your thoughts. Do you see a difference between goals and intentions? Is it just semantics to you? Let me know!