As with most athletes, each racing/training season has its ups and downs. As an exercise physiologist, most of my articles tend to be more “scientific” and related to proper training and/or nutrition. However, as I reflect on my past few seasons and think about the upcoming season, one thing I have realized is that in order to go to the next level, my training needs to be more structured and setting goals is an important part of what my training will look like. For some of you, last season may have been your best one yet, for others, perhaps there were some disappointments. Either way, with most of us focusing on the upcoming season it is time to look at our performances from the past and set new goals for the upcoming year. I truly believe that in order to be successful at whatever it is you do (riding, or in other aspects of life), you must have goals. The following guidelines are pieces of “wisdom” that I have taken from various sources and use for myself.
One of the biggest training mistakes people make when setting a goal is that it is not specific enough. The best goals are specific goals. Whether this means you want to log in a certain number of miles per week, or year, or you have a particular time in mind for a certain distance, the more precise the goal, the better.
Secondly, goals need to be action-oriented. That is, you need to plan how you are going to achieve your goal. Again, just like the goal itself, the strategies you choose need to be specific. For example, if you would like your average speed for a century to be over 16 miles per hour, you need to figure out the number of days per week you will train, the number of miles you need to run and the type of “speed” sessions you need to do.
Goals also need to be realistic. It is fine to have “lofty” goals, however, if you are currently riding an average speed of 15 mph, and you find 17 mph on flat roads for any distance difficult, trying to ride a sub-6 hour century over hilly terrain this year may be setting yourself up for a huge disappointment (either that, or injury). You need to know what you are capable of achieving and know your potential.
Fourthly, goals need to be measurable. For example, an average speed over a certain distance with similar terrain is measurable. You do an event, the clock and your speedometer or power tell you whether or not you have reached your goal.
And lastly, you need to have a realistic time line for your goal. How long do you have before you want to ride that sub 6-hour century? Again, that will depend upon you being realistic about where are you now. How much time do you have to put into your training? If you are currently only riding 50-60 miles per week and can only fit in 3 days per week of training, you will need to give yourself a lot more time to get ready to meet that goal vs. if you are currently riding 100-150 miles/week and are putting in some longer rides on the weekends. Your past performances can give you an indication of your future performances. There is nothing wrong with setting high goals, however, if your goals are too high, you will end up being disappointed and discouraged.
Happy Goal Setting for 2013!!!!
We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mountainpedalscoaching80903 Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at http://www.voler.com. To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at Marilyn@MountainPedals.net, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.
Photo: lululemon, "La Jolla Goal Wall" via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.