Goal setting is an important aspect of preparing for the upcoming season and there’s no better time than the present to complete this exciting activity.
So you're well rested after reading part 1 of this series and free of injury because you've taken positive steps to address any lingering issues discussed in part 2. However before you take a seat at the desk and put pen to paper, it’s first important to reflect on the season just ended one final time. There’s more to setting a good quality goal than just listing the main events you want to ride.
Did last season contain some surprises for you? Could some of the things you’ve thought about earlier in this series of posts form goals that support the principal ones? The input from last seasons lessons will form the stepping stones that allow you to progress from the current version of yourself to next years improved model. If you have decided to add new activities to your plan for the first time next season then starting a regular pilates of yoga class could easily qualify as a short term goal, with the longer term goal being to increase overall power output at various points in your power profile, whilst also completing next years Etape without that back ache!
Don’t forget to think about the positives from last season, you’ve not got to where you are as a cyclist without doing things well. Ask yourself this: do you need to apply the same level of focus to exactly the same training areas as last season? Perhaps valuable time should be diverted to achieving new goals that are aligned to your main aspirations next season. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of following the same old routine each year without really knowing why. Be critical of yourself and ask questions along the lines of:
What positives can I carry from last season into next year?
Am I fully motivated to complete the same race or event again next year?
What were the main things I wish I could have changed in the past 12 months?
What steps can I take to make sure these things don’t happen again next season?
Do my goals support the result I’m looking for in my target events?
Is there anything missing from my plan next year that could lead me to be left scratching my head when the result is the same as the last time?
Did my training, racing and events fit nicely into family and work life last year?
Did last years training really focus on the areas I needed to develop in pursuit of my goals?
There is one overriding factor when it comes to goal setting and this is personal motivation. You must really want to achieve your primary goals of the season and be fully motivated to do so. If there is any sign of wavering early on, or you are not sure that you really do want to ride La Marmotte for the 5th time in 5 years then it’s time to search for a new and exciting challenge, one that your body and mind will happily work towards without question or self doubt.
Without a super high level of motivation towards your main goal all of those underpinning supporting goals and your ambitions for the new season will begin to fall to the wayside as your goals begin to deliver more stress than fulfilment. Make sure you really want do do it! Be certain that you can measure your progress towards achieving each goal you set as this will give you lots of little wins as the season progresses. Keeping track of goals is a great way of building confidence as a race or event approaches, seeing that list of things ticked off as the weeks and months pass by, is a sure sign of progress and readiness for the big day.
An example of a primary goal could be:
Complete the Maratona dlles Dolomites in 6 hours 30 minutes
And some supporting goals could be along the lines of:
Increase my FTP from 260 to 285 watts
Decrease my FTHR from 162 bpm to 155bpm
Work with a cycling coach to improve my descending technique
Attend a pilates class once a week to improve core strength
Create an effective taper plan leading up to the event to ensure I arrive fresh.
The key take aways here are to be highly motivated to achieve your primary goals and keep primary goals to no more than 2 or 3 for the season. Also make sure you can track your progress along the way. Training Peaks (other software is available!) is an excellent tool for tracking your progress. Make sure when in the act of setting all of your seasons goals they are challenging but realistic. There’s nothing worse than setting a goal that is going to be beyond you in the next 12 months - make your goals a stretch, but not impossible and this means factoring in both family and work commitments.
The final word on goal setting is to enjoy doing it and take your time. It’s an exciting part of the season, when you get to think about all the great things you’re going to achieve on the bike over the next 12 months!