There's a phrase you start to hear around this time in cycling circles, mostly at coffee stops as we all enjoy the relaxed mood of the off-season. Never too inquisitive, but just uncomfortable enough that you don't want to answer fully.
'What are your plans for next year?'
Really, just a shooting-the-breeze type of question isn't it? But rarely are people specific in their answer and quite right too: you're probably right not to glaze the eyes of your ride buddies with your 12-month action plan!
'Not sure...I just want to do well'
The vagueness of this reply is normally enough to move the questioning on to what flavour of scone you'd like. Mission accomplished!
It is also, surprisingly, often an answer a rider will give when entering into a coached plan for the first time. More often than not people do have a specific goal but just don't know how to formulate a plan to achieve it, so tip-toe around it. And, as we are all a little insecure at times we lean towards not throwing our hands up for fear of failure.
Challenge yourself, you may just give yourself a huge surprise in the process
Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself on a bike physically is immensely rewarding. The sense of achievement in training for a goal and reaching it fuels motivation to go further, faster or longer. It doesn't have to be the World Championships but in turn, if you believe you can do something, make it a challenge. Throw down the gauntlet...to yourself.
Win that race!
Complete that Sportive!
Set that personal best time!
what do we want? ...goals! when do we want em'? NOW!
Goals can be results-based or time-based depending on your particular discipline but it is important when developing your list of goals you write them down. Accountability to yourself and the process is what will drive you on and boost motivation when you need it.
If you have a coach, discuss openly whether they are realistic and achievable. For goals to be a useful motivational tool and give you the ultimate reward they must be within your range of potential but just outside your comfort zone. As much as we may all wish to win Paris-Roubaix, it is possible that Mat Hayman's Zwift session is as close as we will ever come!
Podium at Regional Championship race
Top 15 at National Championship race
Achieve licence category status higher with accumulated results
Complete a specific Sportive in under a time-limit set.
Set a new 16km or 40km TT personal best.
Climb an iconic mountain in record time
Tip: Be careful not to back yourself into a must-win scenario while goal-setting. The nature of cycling is such that other riders, the elements and luck have a big part to play. More broad goals will allow for flexibility which won't erode your motivation or devalue your achievements.
fast forward to the goal, then walk back dropping targets
Once you have your signed contract, penned in blood, vowing to achieve greatness you need to fast forward metaphorically to the event and then work backwards to find a timeline of progression. As goals are normally quite far in the future and training sessions are regular you will need to select some stage checkpoints or targets. Having regular targets on the horizon will help you to stay focused. If the only thing you have to aim for is a goal in the long distance it can be difficult to believe you are making progress. Use training data, body weight, or race feedback as some examples of areas to find targets.
Make it into a winning breakaway by week 4 of the season.
Stagger power thresholds across your training plan to achieve, e.g 5-min power peak 400W by week 16 of goal forecast, 420 by week 20 of goal forecast.
Reduce body fat/weight to 70kg by week 14.
Improve AWC (time above critical power) by specific joules.
Complete a local charity ride 75% of goal distance sportive.
Set a TT time within 30 seconds of personal best.
Achieve a 20-minute power average or W/kg FTP
Tip: Use calendars and visual reminders of what you want to have accomplished in your targets and leave reminders where you might need them most.
Time for action
Once you know what you want and the progression required to get there it remains only to work out how and what you need to train. Whether it's developing endurance, improving lactate tolerance or bolstering peak sprint-power, I guarantee you will be better focused having gone through an effective goal-setting process. Set some goals now and make next year a succesful year.
If you would like our help at Elevation Coaching to formulate a progressive training plan to smash your goals get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
We offer a range of bespoke plans ranging from £75.