Two weeks in to the New Year and how’s it going with your New Year’s Resolutions?

In my role as Head Coach at Brighton Tri Club I recently shared with all the other coaches my view of our priorities and my own New Year Resolutions.  Most of these also have a cross over to ZigZag Alive so I thought I’d capture them here in a forward look at the year ahead, what I'm hoping to achieve and some tips and reflections on setting and realising your own goals.

This year ahead is a very big one for developing my coaching further, both as Head Coach at Brighton Tri Club and at ZigZag Alive.  Uppermost is completing the Level 3 qualification – no mean task as there is lots of work to submit, including a presentation to give to my peers and the assessors and a substantial portfolio of coaching practice to present.  There’s also the very first Mallorca Experience Tri Camps just a few weeks away – more of which to come in other posts.

New Coaching Coordinator in disguise

New Coaching Coordinator in disguise

At Brighton Tri Club, having won England Triathlon Club of the Year 2015, we want to keep going from strength to strength, doing the right things and be acknowledged again with a 2016 award.  Key to this is the brilliant coaching team we have built up.  My vision continues to be of the Club being an outstanding centre of triathlon coaching, continuing to deepen our expertise in each area and working together in collaborative, supportive ways.  I'm delighted to say that I'll be sharing the load with a new Coaching Coordinator, Laura (an awesome swimmer and outstanding coach).

I’m also making a big push myself to be more systematic in the way ZigZag Alive offers coaching support.  This has been one of the big lessons from the Level 3 course.  Those currently on Training Guides and Plans will already be getting used to the greater emphasis on regular contact, recording of training and closer support.

So what about some tips for making your New Year’s Resolutions and goals a reality?  The following shares some of my thinking and where I am taking my approach:

  • don’t just measure it, feel it:  drawing from the world of management, much is made in coaching of setting SMART objectives, that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable…  I’ve never really been that comfortable with the approach, although I get the need for precision and clarity.   The risk in my view is that we end up with rather limiting, soulless objectives.  Many of the athletes who come to ZigZag Alive and who I see at our Club sessions seem to me to be after something more to do with how they feel about their swimming, cycling or running.  They also often have a whole mix of emotions about a big event beyond the performance aspects.  Over this year I’m aiming to develop what I call confidence centre coaching – you heard it here first folks!  And in the meantime, my tip is to make feeling great, confident, flowing… an aim, whether in the water, on the bike and run and let the results take care of themselves


  • get the details right: having questioned the orthodoxy of SMART objectives, my second tip is about mapping out all the necessary details to achieve an end goal.  Here’s where precision and clarity come into their own.  This has been another big insight for me from the Level 3 course, seeing how top Performance Directors and national coaches take an overall goal, like winning an Olympic gold, and break it down, layer by layer and step by step into every detailed component.  To take just one strand, in working recovery into a plan each of the key elements would be identified: e.g. what to drink and eat and how soon after each session.  This then gets taken down to the next practical level, instilling disciplines such as having a recovery drink made up and in the bag before setting off for a session.  So many of our resolutions end up fading away because we haven’t planned through the detailed practicalities


  • how many mountains?  I recently discussed with our lead tutor and four times 220 Coach of the Year Simon Ward a common phenomenon of athletes who set themselves some mighty mountains to scale one after another, sometimes whilst facing big changes at home or work.  Of course the last thing we’d want to do is dampen anyone’s enthusiasm or sense of excitement about what they can achieve.  But some mountains are best taken one at a time and enjoyed without immediately going into the next big challenge.  And of course we can have so many other things going on in our lives – family commitments, job upheavals and so on – that going all out for one big event after another, oblivious to everything else is a sure fire recipe for burn out, tension and disappointment.  So the tips are really about being patient (mountains rarely disappear one year to the next); be focused, singling out what you know you can really do well; and be mindful of those around you putting up with and supporting your obsessions!
Happiest climbing mountains - one at a time

Happiest climbing mountains - one at a time

On that note, as this year is such a big one for me in terms of private and Club coaching, developing the Confidence Centre Coaching ideas and running our new Camps I’ve decided not to aim for any big event (at least for now!).  I’ll keep training as I’m excited about improving all the time and I like practising what I'm passing on to others.  Beyond that and maybe a few local races, we’ve already booked a nice easy cycling holiday in Sardinia at the end of the Summer and hope to fit in some leisurely hiking in the Scottish Highlands – so not a complete escape from mountains!

Hope your New Year is working out well so far for you.