Psychologically manage the six months before the race: set goals


Recommendations proposed in collaboration with Nicolas Mascret Senior Lecturer 
Institute of Movement Sciences - Aix-Marseille University / CNRS

How to prepare yourself mentally a few months before the race?

have six months left before the start of the Marseille-Cassis race. How can you motivate yourself and stay motivated during this very long and very short period? Let's start with the main mistake to avoid: setting a goal only for the day of the race. Indeed, the risk of setting a single long-term goal is to think that you have plenty of time to reach it, and therefore you can easily postpone your training. And by dint of postponing and postponing your training sessions, telling yourself that you have time, you run the risk of not being ready on race day. This is the famous procrastination, a scientific term that can be defined by the slogan "I will do it tomorrow". To avoid this classic pitfall that we encounter in sports, but also in our work or in our daily life, it can be interesting to wonder about the best way to define our goals, based on a theory of motivation called the goal setting theory.

In order for a goal to have the best chance of being achieved and to maintain motivation, this goal must have some characteristics:

  • Proximity and temporality of the goal :
    A final goal that is too long to achieve (for example, doing a certain time on the day of Marseille-Cassis or finishing the race) can be broken down into a series of successive sub-goals. These sub-goals can be of different kinds and can be considered at different times, for example participating in a preparation race (long-term goal), succeeding in doing two training sessions per week for a month (medium-term goal), succeeding in doing a training session as planned (short-term goal), keeping a pace for a few minutes during a training session
    (very short-term goal). Setting frequent short-term goals is a good way to maintain motivation during a preparation phase that can sometimes be long ;

  • The specificity of the goal :
    Regardless of its temporality, the more specific, clear, identifiable a goal is, the better the performance. Avoiding vague formulations such as ("Today I want to do a good session") in favor of more precise and concrete formulations ("Today I want to manage to keep up with 12 km/h on the 30/30 split session") is a way of motivating yourself thanks to a concrete goal, but also a way of increasing the probability of reaching your goal because you know precisely what the goal is;

  • The difficulty and realism of the goal :
    The more difficult the goal is, the better the performance. Indeed, a goal that seems too easy to reach does not motivate you to train, telling yourself that you will get there no matter what. Hence the interest in setting a demanding goal. However, this remains true up to a certain level of difficulty. By increasing the difficulty, we can say to ourselves that the goal is not finally feasible: in this case, motivation and performance do not decrease, they collapse, victims of "Anyway I will never make it, it is too hard". This is why, even if the goals we set ourselves must be demanding, they must also be realistic, i.e. adapted to the level of each runner;

  • Goal positivity :
    Developing and maintaining motivation often involves formulating goals in a positive rather than negative way, by identifying what you should do (e.g. "Keep up your pace until the next turn") rather than what you should not do (e.g. "Don't stop until the next turn"). This way, your motivation will be focused on the pursuit of success rather than the avoidance of failure, which is much more beneficial both from the point of view of motivation itself and of performance;

  • Goal flexibility :
    Training is never a smooth ride and wanting to reach certain goals at all costs, while elements get in your way (you are tired, you had a big day at work...) can be counterproductive for your motivation and for your performance. In the same way, keeping certain goals when you feel very capable of achieving them is also counterproductive.
    Thus, giving your goals flexibility, by allowing yourself the possibility of increasing or decreasing the difficulty of certain goals, is a strategy that will allow you to better adapt to positive or negative circumstances of the moment.

Learning to set goals actively contributes to the success of your training process, both from a psychological point of view through the development and maintenance of motivation, and from a performance point of view by allowing you to train more seriously and with more follow-through, but also with more pride in achieving the goals you have set. It's up to you now: get to the goal(s)! 

Go back

Our partners
Register for the race

Pour être informé de nos actualités, déposez votre
adresse email ci-dessous :

This field is invalid