Activ8 Advice: SMART Training

By PCYC Lang Park Fitness Professional, Leigh Kable

Let’s imagine you are going to take a walk. It is quite a long walk over unfamiliar territory and has no fixed time limit. Your walk is intended for the purpose of getting fitter, although you might try and see friends on the way, and you cannot say when you might arrive. You also don’t really know where you want to go. You spend ages trying to decide and then you head out the door. In the past you have not had a good track record with your walking and sometimes, you have given up in disappointment. Other times, you have been for a walk, but it was long and boring and there were no remarkable landmarks along the way. You want to find a better route, but how?

It seems incredible doesn’t it, that you would set out like this and just hope to arrive? You may not even arrive anywhere, you might get distracted on the way, or lost. Your vagueness and inability to commit to a time annoys everyone but mainly yourself.

There are so many potential pitfalls with this method most of us would not operate in this way, preferring a more predictable, fun experience. We would start with an idea of where to go, survey the overall territory, get a map and plan the route.

Let us now apply this metaphor to our training!

The SMART acronym is like a map for our training goals so we can maximise our time and effort and work towards a predictable outcome.

S = Specific
The goal should be narrowed down so that it can be achieved. A goal to ‘get fit’ is not specific, whereas, for example, a goal to ‘run 2km’ is specific. The more specific the goal, the shorter the path.

M = Measurable
The goal should be measurable to assist in determining if and when the goal is achieved. Progress towards goals can enhance enjoyment and create a sense of pride and reinforce determination to achieve the end goal.

A = Achievable
The goal should be set high enough to be challenging, but not so high that it can’t be achieved. For example, a goal of running 2km would be realistic for a new runner but not for an experienced runner without an additional goal of running it in a faster time. Goals are set according to the starting point of the individual.

R = Rewarding
The gratification of reaching a goal is enormous and a strong motivator. Therefore, your goals must belong to you. Your trainer can help hone your goal setting, but you will be the one doing the work and other peoples’ goals will not be rewarding in the same way as your own.

T = Timely
The goal should have a timeframe attached to it to keep the goal realistic and achievable and prevent procrastination or perfectionism. As the goal set is a measurable one, at the end of a specific period of time values can be obtained as to how much progress has been achieved. Goal setting is organic and smaller goals can be reset along the way to help move towards the greater or longer term goal.

Although exercise can be enjoyable for its own sake, it is always good to feel we are getting somewhere and making the most of our investment in time and money. Before your next month of training, or PT pack, try thinking about the outcome you would really like.

Think S.M.A.R.T!