Time for some important questions: What do you want to achieve? What is your why? What motivates you to get on the bike and train?
These questions shouldn’t be too hard to answer—your overall goal or end product is the main reason you have started this journey. Whether it’s competing in a local race, aiming to be world champion, raising money for charity or losing a bit of weight, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who is training for absolutely no reason.
When setting your goals, it’s important to look at the bigger picture, so start by thinking about your five-year plan. What do you want to achieve over the next five years? One method you might look to employ is to make sure the goals you set are ‘SMART’ (In this context: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.)
For example, if you’re a rising star in the Olympic Track Development Team, your goal might be to ‘gain selection to represent my country on the track at the next Olympics’. The goal is specific to the discipline the rider is in, measurable because you can safely say if the rider made it or not, attainable because they are in the development team, relevant to them and time-bound because the date of the event has been set.
An example for a more casual rider might be ‘to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) within five years. This is SMART because it’s a specific route, measurable by having a target which is either completed or not, attainable because it is likely that it could be completed with training, relevant to the rider and time-bound by having a time-frame by which to achieve it.
Keeping it real
Ok, you might have just read that and thought “5-year plan, I’m not thinking that far ahead!”. That’s ok and in reality, you might not need to. You can go year-to-year just enjoying a new challenge. The majority of my clients might have 1-2 years planned out. I do actually ask for what clients would like to do in 8 years’ time. The answers usually include sarcasm along the lines of “be alive” …
What you will get for planning farther ahead is a greater sense of commitment and motivation. I simply can’t stress just how important these mental factors will play in your training. 50% of your gains will come from you being mentally prepared, having a strategy for keeping committed and motivated is a big part of that.
But, if you’re simply not looking to envisage yourself that far in the future, that is fine, no judgement from me!
Picking your goals
Chances are you have already picked an event that ties in with your overall goal. Some people jump straight in and pick the event, again, this is fine, and you’ve not really skipped a step, you’ve simply not consciously considered the questions I asked at the beginning of the chapter. For most, this isn’t a mistake, but for some they will get closer to their events and realise it’s not the right event for them, or actually they want something completely different. This is more common in novices, particularly people who want to test themselves against others, they might enter a Gran Fondo, only to get closer to the event and realise that criterium racing is more their thing.
You also need to be realistic with your choice. This might not be from a performance perspective; you might actually need to consider outside factors like work and family or the time you have available. If you want to ride an ultra-endurance event, maybe Race Across America (RAAM), you might be disappointed if your family or work aren’t supportive enough, or when you find out how expensive a trip that that will cost. It’s important not to limit yourself here, but, at the same time be objective about what you want or can achieve.
Maybe you want to prove to yourself you are capable of great physical strength. If you have a moderate amount of training time per week, let’s say 8 hours, you’ve already completed a few UK sportive events, then maybe it’s time to test yourself with a big European one, something that takes in a lot of Alpine climbing. If you want to be in a small collective of people you could try something like Everesting, climbing the same elevation as Mount Everest in a single ride.
Following this guide you can set out some personalised goals that you will actually be able to achieve. Once you have your goals, the next step is to work out what you need to do to reach them. Once you have that, it’s time to jump on RGT and get started…
Parts of this article are from my #1 New Release “The Guide to Truly Effective Cycling” available on Amazon stores.
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