A cyclist without a goal is like a kid without a dream. Cycling goals provide direction and motivation; they give meaning to the pain we cyclists subject ourselves too. So with the new season fast approaching, it’s time to roll and set those goals.
STRIVE FOR WHAT YOU CAN BECOME
All successful cyclists are driven by some form of goal. To consistently push the body beyond what’s possible, there needs to be some form of overarching goal.
In the sport of cycling, goals can be anything—winning a race, completing a century ride, or even climbing Alpe D’huez in under an hour. Whatever your goal, it should enable you to reach your potential on the bike and get you through the hard times.
There’s a science behind the art of goal setting, and taking the time to plan your goals carefully pays off. Here are our 6 key tips for goal setting to help ensure all that pain is not in vain.
1) IDENTIFY THE UNDERLYING WHY
At its core, a cycling goal should represent something deeply meaningful to you. Ideally, it should tie into a greater life goal. When times get tough, knowing exactly why you’re training is what will help you pull through those tough times. Without it, it’s all too easy to hit snooze and roll over rather than get up and ride.
So whether it’s weight loss, recovery from an injury, a new personal best, or simply bonding with others, identify the underlying why and keep it at the forefront of your mind.
2) HISTORY REPEATS: REVIEW LAST YEAR
We navigate the road ahead much better when we understand where we’ve come from. By reviewing last year’s data, we gain greater insight into what parts of our cycling game need work.
Things to think about are: What went right and what went wrong? What could be improved upon? Where did we let ourselves down? Were we pipped on the line time and time again in a sprint? Or perhaps we lost contact with the lead group each time near the top of the same climb?
In cycling, history very much repeats. You’re not going to get any faster up a climb unless you do something about it. By understanding where we’ve struggled before, we enable ourselves to tailor the training challenges to our ultimate benefit in the year ahead. By having our weaknesses pointed out to us with undeniable data, it paves the way for a clearer understanding of what exactly we need to focus on.
3) MAKE THE CYCLING GOALS SPECIFIC
“Riding better on the climbs” isn’t specific. Obtaining an FTP of 300 watts by July is. Without making a goal specific, we struggle to quantify our progress. And without quantifying our progress, we tend to deviate from our goals and lose motivation quickly.
Specific goals can take many forms. While they may relate to power numbers, they may also simply be an achievement within our own age category. There are numerous outlets to challenge our competitive nature in a healthy way regardless of age, fitness, or abilities. Pick something specific and build a plan around it.
4) TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
One of the fastest ways to lose motivation is to become hard on yourself and end up feeling like you’re getting nowhere.
As with any goal, it’s essential to make sure that your fitness is advancing on schedule. Tracking your progress helps enormously with this, and is achieved by breaking that main goal down into smaller goals. For example, if your main goal is an FTP of 300 watts come July, then perhaps aim for a linear increase on each monthly FTP test.
Celebrate those minor wins along the way too. If you’ve just hit a new max power on your sprint, or you’ve held 4 watts/kg on that mammoth climb for 30 minutes, let it sink in. Make sure that every part of you knows it.
Technology is your friend here. At Tacx, our software solutions provide all you’ll need to monitor your progress. Whether through our structured training plans or workout creators, all your performance data is available for later analysis on the cloud.
5) DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
It’s all too easy to wallow in defeat when you compare yourself to those who are genetically gifted. We don’t all have the physique to beat the pure climbers or specialist sprinters, and perhaps never will. But by simply accepting this fact, we help avoid feeling disheartened and unmotivated when our gains are hard to come by. Remember, your goals are specific to you.
6) EXECUTE: SHOOT FOR THE STARS
Train in such a way that you build on your strengths and bolster your weaknesses. Single out the areas that need work and face them head-on.
This may involve stepping away from the group rides for a time if those needs are not being met. Perhaps spending some additional time on the smart trainer to hone those parts of your game that need honing may be necessary.
But whatever transpires, be kind to yourself. One missed workout or a week of sickness doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Things rarely go to plan and even the pros battle issues of illness, fatigue, and injury. With longterm goals, it’s about the endgame, and by consistently showing up with the end-goal firmly in mind, you give yourself the best chance of arriving there!