In this post, I’ll be offering a few tips around goal setting and exactly how you can go about setting your cycling goals for the year or season ahead. This should allow you to effectively create a step-by-step plan with which to achieve your overarching aims and targets.
Goals are an incredibly important thing for any cyclist to have, regardless of ability or experience. They keep us motivated, they direct our actions so that we are always moving in the right direction and they give us the stepping stones we need to achieve things that can sometimes seem almost impossible at the outset. Without them, it is very difficult to keep our training on track and effective, and without achievements along the road to our ultimate goals, we can feel lost and de-motivated in our training.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE GOALS?
Goals can apply to many areas of your training, from daily and weekly goals, all the way up to our overall goals for the season. Even though some goals are bigger and seemingly more difficult to achieve than others, even small goals play a very important role in the success or failure of achieving the larger and loftier ones.
Setting goals can be a challenge for a lot of athletes, as it can be overwhelming to think where to begin. A simple but effective system for goal setting that is used in many facets of life is SMART goal setting.
SMART GOALS FOR CYCLING
SMART is a mnemonic that is, when followed, designed to make sure that goals are useful, spur us into action and reward us once achieved. The specific letters of SMART refer to:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound, so let’s look at these individually in the context of cycling.
Firstly, a goal has to be specific in order to target a very clear area for improvement or development.
When a goal is not specific, it is hard to know how to then go about creating a strategy or set of steps to achieve it.
Goals need to be measurable so that we don’t have to guess at whether we are making progress or whether a goal was achieved or not.
Without a clear way to measure a goal, the excitement and gratification of achieving a goal can be missed out on, even if it was in fact achieved.
A cycling goal needs to be a realistic and an attainable goal too. If a goal is too easy, then motivation to work hard to achieve the goal may be lacking and the pursuit of the goal can easily be abandoned.
At the same time, a goal which is unattainable begins to seem pointless to the athlete and can bring about dissatisfaction and lack of motivation when the goal is ultimately not achieved.
A properly constructed goal should certainly stretch the athlete, but not so much as to make the goal unachievable given reasonable effort and resources available.
A goal also has to be relevant to the overall aim of your cycling. If you want to be able to ride a century for instance, are the goals that you are setting going to help you achieve this or not?
Irrelevant goals obviously will not move you forward in the right direction and can be considered a waste of both time and effort.
Finally, goals need to be time-bound so that there is a clear deadline for when a goal has to be achieved by.
Luckily, this part of the goal setting process is not difficult for the athlete to handle, as often race or event dates, as well as daily and weekly schedules dictate the time by which a goal needs to be accomplished.
SMART GOAL EXAMPLE
Here’s an example of a SMART goal and a few ideas of what you might want some of your goals to be.
Lose 3% body fat within 3 months in order to set a personal best time in my local hill climb on 1st July.
The above goal sets out very clear SMART parameters to make the goal clear and vastly improve the chances of success.
If you are struggling to think of some goals to set, here are some areas that you might want to focus on:
- Reducing body weight or increasing lean muscle mass
- Increasing your power-to-weight ratio at your Functional Threshold Power
- Improving eating and drinking habits (e.g. drink an average of 5 glasses of water per day for a week)
- Upgrade to a higher racing category by mid-season point
- Achieve a certain time or position within a race or event
- Improving workout consistency
Spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve with your time spent cycling and write down some optimised SMART goals to start working towards. You’ll likely then find it much easier to be motivated and to plan your daily and weekly training, safe in the knowledge you’re working towards something that’s very clearly defined.
What are your goals for the 2016 season? I’d love to hear them, so drop ’em in the comments below.