Tips for Setting Your Triathlon Goals for the New Year

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Tips for Setting Your Triathlon Goals for the New Year

It’s January. Happy New Year! Good news for some triathletes. Not so much for other multi-sporters. Into which group do you fall?

The “good news kids” love a fresh start and can’t wait to get back on schedule with training, planning, setting up travel plans, hitting the weights, and strength training hard as well as, of course, lots of swimming, biking, and running. Wait, all these folks have already jumped into all of that!

They’re pumped that the season is just around the corner (even though, for most, it’s four to five months away). They can already feel the excitement of the 4:00 a.m. race day alarm. Their winter bike tune-up is done, and the new Christmas wetsuit is in the closet, and the newest carbon-plated running shoes have already been broken in just a bit.

All their favorite programs are DVRd for those indoor training sessions that this group loves. It doesn’t matter at all if it’s indoors or out. They just love grinding. Zwift is their best friend, and they’ve made international friends from all the real-time racing they’ve done.

Their race schedule is set, having taken advantage of the discount that comes with registering for multiple races together. All ten paid. Ready. Done.

Then, there’s the other group. They’ve taken the “off-season” VERY seriously. Zwift rhymes with swift, and they are certainly not that right now. Swift rhymes with lift; the only thing they’ve lifted is a fork to their mouth.

Please don’t be offended, second group. I’m one of you. We’re related. Brothers and sisters in this. Further definition could include hating indoor training, thinking “Zwift” is a new covid variant, and saying multiple times, “I’m going to get back on the stick tomorrow.” Some advice from “experts” is that it’s perfectly fine to put on 10% of your race weight during off season. It’s actually healthy for you. Man, I love this!! Let’s do 15%!

January 1 was going to be a starting point. Well, wait, the actual holiday is January 2. That’ll work. No, that’s the day-off holiday. Hmmmm. That half marathon I was going to do while in Gulf Shores, AL in a month isn’t going to happen now, so the pressure is off. First race was not for 4.5 months. Tons of time to get in shape and drop those pounds.

Two groups. Ok, maybe you fall somewhere in between, but I bet you identified more readily with one or the other.

Tips for group one, “The Over-Achievers”:

  1. Chill! This can be harder than the physical part. Managing your mental and emotional energy for, say, ten months straight can be tough though it doesn’t seem like it now. Staying fresh in your head for all of 2023 takes pacing, just like it does in a race.
  2. Periodize your year. You don’t have to be doing massive workouts now. Variety is important, so switch things up and work on technique development.
  3. Remember what’s really important. Take extra time with your family and friends. Pick up that instrument and play it. Read the book that’s been on the desk for months now. Engage with people and do other life-giving activities while you’re putting in massive miles and meters (see #2 above).

Tips for MY group, group two, the, ummm, well, “Off-Season Champions”:

  1. Moderation. Maybe it was no restriction eating for November and December, but now it time to moderate, to take back some control. Not like what you’ll do in a couple of months, but start now taking some ground back.
  2.  Remember, a short workout is better than nothing. No, it’s WAY better than nothing. Use the five minute approach – make a deal with yourself that you’ll at least do five minutes. Then see how you feel. Most of the time you can go to 10. Then tell yourself you’re halfway done and do another 10 minutes. Next thing you know, presto! A workout.
  3. Do something or buy something motivating. For Christmas, I got new race wheels. I won’t use them til my first race but still, there they are. Leaning against the wall, motivating me. New goggles. A new swimsuit. New running shoes, heck, new running socks, for Pete’s sake. Whatever it takes.

You know you. You know what you need to do, or not do right now. Whatever that is, get ‘er done.

Lincoln Murdoch
Lincoln Murdoch
As an accomplished endurance athlete, Lincoln has been competing in running events for 40 years and racing in triathlons for 25 years. He is a 3x USAT National Champion, 14x USAT All-American and 3x ITU World Championships Top-Ten finisher. Lincoln is passionate about helping athletes meet their goals through books, online resources, coaching and motivational speaking. You can learn more at
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