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Focus on Unique Process Goals Rather Than Results Goals to Find More Success in Training

It’s a constant challenge to focus on the process of training specifically for an event and not develop expectations about results. 

Whether we are training for a cycling or running event, we start to feel a certain way about how we might end up doing. 

We - or at least I do - daydream about success and podiums.

What if we changed how we view “training” to focus on the process of training.

No, I don’t mean the typical business-jargon or some kind of new-age spirituality. 

As cyclists and runners, we can treat our daily training as a process of learning more about ourselves, pushing our boundaries, and accepting limitations.

Focus on unique process goals rather than results goals to find more success in training

Focusing on results brings unsustainable expectations

When we focus solely on getting results in our endurance sports, we create unsustainable expectations for ourselves.

But when we focus on the process of the training before results instead of training just for results, the habits we develop can bring us a happier and more fulfilled life.

For Derek Deprey, author, speaker, and consultant, the process of training is the whole point.

"That's what most people overlook," he says. "People just want the outcome. The process is the real thing. It's the actual tires to the road. It's what you have to do to get to anything."

Deprey, author of Shift: Move From Frustrated to Fulfilled, feels strongly that any goal in any part of your life depends on the training process because the proper execution of your plan creates good habits in your life.

"All of your habits point you in the direction of success, those habits are the behaviors you do every day to get closer to your goal,” he says. “Everybody gets motivated every day, everybody can read their motivational quotes. But all that matters is execution. It's the same in endurance training, writing a book, starting a podcast, any goal."

10 behaviors that bring us toward our goals

In Shift, Deprey outlines the 10 behaviors that bring us toward our goal, and all of them focus on the process of the journey.

  1. Make the decision: What do you want to do? What are you going to do?  
  2. Set a deadline.  
  3. Commit and budget time every day to do the work.  
  4. Keep yourself focused by internally asking if this goal is the most important thing -- is this the *right* thing for me? Am I considering the training process before the results?
  5. Create a calendar of what needs to happen and when. 
  6. Say no to garbage by being relentlessly focused on your goal. 
  7. Start learning now what you need to learn to move forward. 
  8. Try new things because if you're changing your life, doing the same old is going to get you the same results. 
  9. Find a mentor. 
  10. Recharge your battery.  Make sure you take some time off to relax and come back to the pursuit stronger.

Returning to the vision helps to focus on the process

Deprey says that this tried and true process has worked with hundreds of things in life, including writing his book.

"After I wrote the book, I got keynote speeches, got on stage, got noticed,” he says. “But then it was like, okay great, now what?  I always have to go back to my vision. It's truly helping people move from frustrated to fulfilled. That is what I enjoy. The outcome is short-term and temporary. It all goes back to enjoying the journey."

For endurance athletes, this is a long and short-term process. 

We set long-term goals like a particular race or event.

But then the rest of the work is done every day during training.

Am I bringing energy to the process, am I doing the right training, am I doing all the things I need to do to be successful in my event?

Am I working on the steps to focus on the process of training to improve my general health and fitness?

Training to focus on the process before results brings more joy to life

We also need to define what success looks like. 

If we focus on winning a race or getting a particular result, we can lose out on the good things that endurance sports can bring.

When we create expectations around results, we are inevitably disappointed. 

If we win, like Deprey publishing his book, we just want to win again.

If we finish second, we focus on winning. 

I’m not saying we should never focus on winning an event. 

Winning is amazing. 

Yet we miss out when that’s the only thing we have.

And winning can be defined in many ways.

Instead, here’s how we focus on the process of training to bring more joy and satisfaction to our lives. 

Long-term planning helps focus on the process of success in training

First, we need to reflect on why we’re doing the training in the first place. 

Is it to improve our health, push our limits, lose some weight, or something else?

That’s the vision with a capital V, and that vision drives everything else. 

Then, as Deprey says, we need to create a long-term goal like finishing an event, and then figuring out what we need to do to get there. 

We can probably always include endurance training, strength training, and yoga for mobility work. 

And maybe there are specific elements of your fitness that need to be improved.

Every day takes you one step closer

Your training plan then becomes a daily opportunity to achieve your goal and your vision. 

Plus, the act of training to focus on the process may bring you more than you imagined

You might find yourself meeting new friends or pushing beyond the boundaries you think you had.

You have a weekly plan that lists what kind of workouts or rest days you have.

And each workout has to have a purpose that brings you closer to your goal. 

For instance, you might need to improve your swimming skills to complete a triathlon. 

Swimming lessons would then need to be a key element of training.

Focusing on a daily process is not easy

I have always struggled not to focus on results. 

And, as an endurance coach, I now make it a core part of my work to help athletes of all experience levels focus on the process of training.

We talk about the goals of the workout, we talk about how different parts of the training schedule build on each other, and we talk about the mental focus needed to focus on the process. 

The bottom line is that we build your overall health and fitness through a blend of endurance training, strength training, and yoga.

Three things cyclists and runners should consider about the process:

  1. Focus on the process of what you can learn from training and racing, rather than an outcome goal.
  2. Learn to approach training as a daily opportunity to grow and improve toward your goal.
  3. Remember we train to be healthier and happier, not to stand on podiums, although that can be nice!

Want to know more about success in training?

If you liked this article, please share it with others.

I support a limited number of cyclists and runners achieve their goals with more strength, endurance, and mobility. 

Contact me or sign up for Virtual Coffee so we can discuss your goals, ask questions, and talk about making your endurance training more effective, fun, and Simple.

You can also opt-in to receive my weekly blog posts about what works in endurance sports. 

Paul Warloski is a: 

  • USA Cycling Level 3 Coach
  • RRCA Running Coach
  • Training Peaks Level 2 Coach
  • RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
  • Certified Personal Trainer
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