We're seeing a lot of athletes reaching lofty goals this week, but you can be sure they have experienced setbacks along the way, just like we all do. To stay on track, it helps to focus more on your plan than on your goal. Photo by Philo Nordlund.
Runner Brenda Martinez told Science of Us that she turned in a great performance at the Olympic trials this year by focusing on the little things she could control, not on her overall goal. A few days before making the US team for the 1500m event, she narrowly missed making the team in her best event, the 800m, when another runner fell and jostled her. Here's how she described the aftermath:
I just quickly let go of what happened in the 800m and got back to my routine, to focusing on all the little things I could do that would give me the best chance of running well later in the week.
After all, you can't control everything that goes into your goal. Even if you're aiming for something lower key, like beating your best previous time in a local 5K race, things can happen. You could get injured, or race day weather could work against you. You might even show up to the track for your workout one day and find that it's closed and will be under construction for the rest of the summer. (Yes, all of these have happened to me.)
You don't know any of that, though, when you begin. No matter how much you want to meet your goal, you can't predict whether all the uncontrollable factors will be on your side. Instead, choose a training plan that will get you to your goal, and do your best to follow that plan.
What Olympians Can Show Us About Setting Big Goals [Science of Us]