Cycling holidays alps supported

Goal Setting - Unlock your potential

Rob Hawkins

Goal Setting - Unlock your potential

The art of goal setting is often misunderstood or worse still omitted altogether from our planning. When we do set ourselves targets for the following season they are often along the lines of finishing in the top 100 of the Etape du Tour but is a goal like this realistic and how do we know we’ll be in the place we need to be when the taking stops?

Having a series of goals for next year is motivational and provides a strong focus and sense of purpose to our riding especially over the winter months. Equally setting goals that are unrealistic or too far off in the future with nothing to support them can lead to us becoming disillusioned and having the exact opposite effect to the one desired.

Do you think any of the riders in the image above arrived here by chance?

Just like any well managed project you have to know what the end result will look like and also have a clear direction and pathway to get there. If we just say we are going to ride that huge sportive and miss out the key interim steps there’s no guarantee that come the date of the event we will be where we wish to be and if we’re being honest with ourselves we know that we will not perform as we would have liked.

Setting short, medium and long term goals will:

1) Help you to organsise and plan your training around life.

2) Allow you to measure your improvement over a period of time rather than just keep thinking what else should I be doing before D-day.

3) When required help you to manage priorities.

4) Focus your efforts and importantly valuable time on the right things at the right time.

5) Keep you motivated as a result of being able to know exactly where you are now and what’s next on the goal list.

Things to consider when setting goals

Goals need to be effective and have a purpose. There’s no point in setting them if they will not help you improve your performance in some way or other. We’re all busy right so let’s do it once and get it right.

1) Goals must be realistic - If you’ve never raced before setting a primary goal as finishing on the podium in a Cat 2 Criterium or finishing the Etape in the top 200 are not realistic and will likely end in disappointment and a huge loss of motivation for the following year.

2) Goals must be achievable based upon the knowledge you have about your life and the time you have available to train once you’ve taken family and work commitments into account. Share your goals with your family so they understand what you’re doing.

3) First set your realistic long term goals then work back and create some medium term goals that you know are essential points to reach if you are to nail the main goal. Once the medium term goals are in place have a think and decide if there are any short term areas that you need to focus on also.

4) Review your goals regularly and make sure you are still on track.

Never forget that the whole purpose of having goals is to keep you challenged, motivated, interested and on track in your pursuit of that feel good factor when you’ve completed your event. Identify your weaknesses and create structured goals that tackle them head on.

A few do nots

1) Make sure your goals are not vague as this will make it impossible for you to know if you have achieved it or not. (so long as you’re brutally honest with yourself!)

2) Do not set or be goaded into setting goals that are unrealistic. You will suffer demotivation, stress and ultimately failure if you do this. (Harsh words but honesty is key here)

3) Do not make your goals too easy, provide yourself with a good level of challenge and stretch to take you forward.

4) Do not just think of your goals and not commit them to paper. Write them down and review your progress often.

What does a good goal look like?

Back to project management mode here (just when I thought I’d left all that behind!) and I know you all know this already but just in case!

A great goal should be:





Time Phased



A good road riding primary goal could look like:

— Complete the 2015 Etape du Tour in 10 hours or less.

It’s all of the above and you are sure to know if you have achieved this or not!

An example of supporting goals could look like:

Medium Term - To have completed all training sessions prescribed by the end of Q1 2015.

so to know you have achieved this you must also have this short term goal in place:

Short Term - To have created a structured training plan before Christmas 2014 that focuses on developing my weaknesses.

Medium Term - To have reached my target weight of 84kg by end of Q2 2015.

Likewise the weight goal is not going to happen unless some other shorter term goals are set:

Short Term - To have created a weekly nutritional strategy for Q1 2015 by Christmas.

I’m sure you can see where I am at with this. Long term goals first, then set key interim milestones and then make sure you have the necessary shorter term goals in place to make sure you reach your milestones in great shape. Don’t kid yourself either, if you set these goals and then keep missing them or finding excuses you will not perform as you should, it’s very easy to think of excuses or reasons why certain aspects of training shouldn’t happen. We’ll look more closely at some strategies to help with the psychological side of things at a later date.

Types of goal

There are a couple of different goal types and you must be very careful not to cause difficulty and stress for yourself before you even get started.

Product & Performance Goals

  • A product goal would be along the lines of finishing the Etape du Tour in the top 100. This may be realistic for some people however if other riders deliver exceptional performances on the day you could finish in 150th place having completed a personal best and find yourself demoralized and this is totally outside of your control.

A better option would be to set a goal of:

  • Complete the Etape du Tour in 7hrs 15 minutes an improvement of 45 minutes on my last years performance.

With a goal like this if you have looked at the field and where this time would have placed you last year even if you for some reason outside of your control finish outside of the top 100 there will be some huge plus points in knowing that you met your target time of 7hrs 15 minutes. You would refer to this latter goal as a performance orientated goal.

A Selection of my 2015 goals

Primary Goals:

— Complete the Time Megeve 2015 Sportive in 5hrs 30 mins or less on the 7th June.

— Climb Alpe d’Huez in 49mins 59 seconds or less by the end of September 2015.

Supporting Goals:

— Achieve target power to weight ratio for 1 hour effort of 4.28 watts/kilo by 2nd week of May.

— Create a revised nutritional strategy to help reduce weight to 70kg by end 2nd week of May 2015.

— Devise a training schedule before the end of November 2014 to increase performance at lactate threshold by 15% on last season.

— From January 2015 complete two 1 hour Pilates sessions each week to improve stability and overall resilience on the bike.

Final Words

Make sure that you not only set challenging and realistic goals for yourself but also give them a priority to ensure that you know what you must focus on when that inevitable time comes where something has to slip.

Setting goals can seem like an unnecessary burden when we could just be riding but being in possession of a high quality set of goals is like owning the key to unlocking your full potential.

Continue the discussion...