It’s over 2 weeks into 2023 now, and I’m settling into some solid training out in Girona again. Although still a little way away, I know the coming weeks will fly by, and I will soon be lining up on my first pro start line. So, I thought now would be a good time to outline my goals for the year.
For anyone reading this who doesn’t know me – I’m a middle and long-distance triathlete, and 2023 will be my first year racing as a professional. I started this sport 4 years ago, so I’m still fairly new compared to many of the guys I’m now racing against.
Whilst I’d love to be able to target a win at the World Championships, that’s a little out of my reach right now, and I’m basing my aspirations on the reality of my situation.
With that in mind, here are my goals for the 2023 race season (in order of priority):
0. Retain my pro licence.
This should happen organically and is not something I want to think about – that’s why it’s number zero.
I don’t want to go into this season with this goal in mind. I should be easily capable, and I don’t want it to affect the way I race. To think anything else would be a little defeatist.
That being said, whilst I’m not targeting this specifically, it is something that I need to achieve. If I mess up or get injured, perhaps I’ll revisit this.
1. Have fun.
It sounds super cliché, but this is what I’ve wanted since I was a kid. This is the opportunity I’ve been working towards for the last 4 years (or much longer if you count my days as a bike rider).
So yeah, my absolute priority is to actively enjoy this thing I’ve worked so hard for. Anything else is a bonus.
I think it’s always so easy to keep aiming higher and higher, without ever taking a moment to appreciate where you are. I’ve done this before myself, and I’m trying my best not to do it right now.
2. Gain experience.
I am aware that I’m not going to be one of the best in the world right now. I know that my swim is still a weakness.
I’m putting in the work to reduce that gap, but even if I take 2 minutes off my swim from last season, I’m still not really fighting for the win yet. So, whilst those improvements are being made in the background, the goal is to gain experience – learn how to race in a pro field, and fine-tune things like nutrition, pacing, and everything else it takes to execute a good race.
3. Break into the top 400 in the PTO (Professional Triathletes Organisation) world ranking.
This should be very doable (much like retaining my pro licence). Based on results last year, I’m already above this level, but I need to show it. It’s also a benchmark that Challenge (race organisation) lay out for race entry benefits, so it’s a nice thing to aim for.
4. Break into the top 250 in the PTO world ranking.
Again, this should also be doable, but not worth stressing about if it doesn’t come off. This will require me to have 2 or 3 semi-respectable race results. It also guarantees free entry into Challenge Family races, and I think shows that I’m at least worthy of taking part in these races.
I have a more ambitious two-year goal for the rankings, but for now, that’s not a priority.
[NB: the rankings work on a rolling 12-month basis and take an average of your best 3 results. Therefore, my results this year will not factor into this 2-year goal]
5. Add value to people and brands, and build an understanding of what it takes to satisfy sponsors.
Making professional triathlon a sustainable career means providing value to brands/sponsors, and entertainment to consumers. Pro athletes are, at a base level, entertainers and billboards. That’s where the money comes from. Winning races takes care of both of these aspects in one way or another. However, it’s not the only way to provide value in either aspect, and this is something I’m keen to explore and develop.
6. Do a good full-distance performance.
I started triathlon because of the full Ironman distance. I loved the idea of racing this mythical endurance test, and I thought it would suit my abilities, given my background. I still think and believe these things. However, I have now done 4 full-distance races (plus one ultra – Evergreen 228), and I am yet to get one right.
My first one, in Bolton – I got it wrong on the bike. My second, in Tallinn, I had mechanical and knee problems on the bike, then I got it wrong on the run. My third was the World Champs in St. George, and I wrote a full blog post about how that turned out (here). I then DNF’d Ironman France a few weeks later, for a multitude of reasons.
So in my view, I’ve still not delivered on the main thing that drew me to this sport – and I would like to change that.
However, I have also come to realise that races of this distance take a big toll on my body (especially if I get the pacing wrong and have to run a full marathon on legs that have already left the party). This therefore clashes with my second-priority goal of gaining experience.
To learn as much as possible, I need to race as much as possible (within reason). And for me, this isn’t possible to do at the same time as targeting full-distance races. So, I will primarily race middle-distance races this year, alongside one full-distance race (or two at the most) – that I will try my very best not to screw up again.
For the past 2 years, I’ve had one clear race as the target (originally a 2021 goal, but then the pandemic carried on and it became a 2022 thing).
2023 will be a little different, and a little more arbitrary. In fact, I think it ties in nicely with something I wrote last year, so feel free to browse that too for more on enjoying the process and not getting caught up in results.
I’m super excited to get going. I think it’s a good one, but I’d be interested to know if anyone disagrees with my outlook. People put loads of pressure on themselves, so perhaps someone else will find this useful too.