Mental Skills For Cycling Series (Part 2 of 4)
Goal setting is a hugely important step in planning your season, and is often the difference between a successful and unsuccessful training plan. When done properly goal setting can give you increased levels of motivation, help to make your training more optimal and targeted for your goal events, and ensure that you get maximum enjoyment and satisfaction from your cycling season. It is not as simple as saying “I want to win x race” or “I want to improve my FTP by x watts” One big goal is not enough. You will look at the goal, which may seem very far away from where you are now, and think you will never get there. This can lead to a drop in motivation and less focus in your training. This is why you must have short term goals, medium term goals, and long term goals. Having “steps” like these to reach your main goal makes things appear much more achievable, and ticking off your short and medium term goals as you accomplish them will give you a sense of satisfaction, and renewed motivation for the goals to come. An example of this is an A4 rider who wishes to upgrade to A1.
Breaking down your goals
This goal when looked at as a whole seems extremely daunting and for many, impossible. However when broken down into short medium and long term goals it soon becomes more manageable. A short term goal for this rider might be a weekly goal of completing all of their training sessions prescribed by their coach. Completing these short term goals continuously will lead them to their medium term goal, which might be to get 10 cycling ireland points towards their upgrade to A3, and so on. Achieving these medium term (monthly, quarterly, season long) goals will lead them towards their ultimate goal, the long term goal of becoming an A1. To look at the big picture can sometimes be overwhelming. That is why it is important to break things down into manageable steps. This also gives focus and importance to a riders daily actions. Nailing those intervals can be seen as a tangible step towards achieving something, rather than just a box that needs to be ticked.
When setting your goals you should ensure they are SMART. This gives you the best chance of achieving them.
Don’t have a vague goal of “I want to get faster” set targets such as “I want a 15 watt increase in FTP”
Make sure you can objectively measure your goals, increase in power numbers is a perfect example
There is no point setting yourself goals that cannot be reached. You mightn’t win the national champs next season, but you might win your local race. This is not to say you should aim low, but you should set goals that you genuinely believe you can achieve.
Make sure your goal is realistic, and is within your reach. Goals that are unrealistic will only lead to disappointment, and possibly burnout as you will see them as impossible tasks
Putting a deadline on your goal is excellent, both for motivation, and to help structure the process of achieving the goal
Goal setting is in my opinion the single biggest thing we can do as cyclists to keep our motivation levels high. Picking a goal that really inspires you can give you something to draw on when motivation levels are low. Take the time to do some goal setting before your next training phase. I promise you it will give you renewed focus, and continued motivation throughout.