It’s around this time of year that coaches start banging on about the importance of goal setting for next season so I thought a (brief) ‘beginners guide’ might help explain why this is important and how to go about it.
Oct/Nov can be a slack time for us coaches and we like banging on about things.
Understanding want you want to achieve from your cycling and what success might look like makes the training process measurable. ‘Get fitter on the bike’ is a rubbish goal, whereas ‘ride the Nether Wallop 10 mile time trial on the 32nd of Julumber 2016 in under 26 minutes’ is a great one because it follows the SMART principle.
Okay, okay, most of you know this, but SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time bound. Many goals aren’t perfectly SMART because we live in the real world and that’s not how life works, but we should aim for them to be as smart as possible. SMARTISH can be good enough if you’re still formulating ideas about what you want to get out of your riding.
With a target, us coaches can work out a specific training plan to get you to achieve your goals. Without this framework we are guessing a bit – there are enough variables in cycling – we don’t want to add another if we can help it, right?
You can have a number of different, but hopefully not competing, goals. It’s not the end of the world if they do compete but the resulting likely compromises need to be understood. If you want to peak for a 100 mile sportive in July, your unlikely to be doing a PB in the 4000m pursuit the week after, that type of thing.
You can (maybe should) have ‘process goals’ as well as the ‘output’ ones above. These might be improving techniques like cornering, pacing, starting or descending. Equally they could be around tactical or psychological improvements. Tricky, but again making them as SMART as possible helps.
Finally, ALL your goals: rubbish, SMART or SMARTISH must be rider focused. However well they are framed they must be about what you, the rider, want to achieve not what me, the coach, wants you to achieve. It’s your cycling – I just want to help you get the most out of it, whatever that might be.