Goals - ‘The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result’*. Snappy eh?
You’ll see lots of stuff about goal setting for the upcoming season and the importance of making them SMART at this time of year. At least, I hope you will. Goal setting is 1.0 on the Level 3 Cycling Coaching qualification and, collectively, we coaches bang on about them a lot. And rightly so, goal setting works because at a psychological level they direct attention, they mobilise effort, they increase persistence and they encourage the development of positive responses to obstacles in our training.
So, sure, they’re important, but we can miss a couple of fundamental things right at the beginning of the goal setting process.
Make them yours. Your goals have to be your goals, not just the ones that fit neatly into what your coach wants them to be because they are measurable. Setting measurable goals is easy but if they don’t match what you, in your heart of hearts, actually want to achieve, they’re going to be ineffective. So, spend some time with them, sleep on them, get comfortable with them and develop them with a mind to their resilience. Goal setting is best if it’s an iterative process, so don’t be afraid to ask your coach to challenge you on them, try to find weaknesses with them and thereby improve their quality and resilience. Do this, and they will serve you well.
Most riders can find the motivation to train in early January. We’ve demolished the last of the Roses chocolates and the remnants of the blue cheese has gone in the bin, but by the end of the month things are looking a bit tougher and motivation tends to fade. At this point you’ll need to rely on commitment rather than motivation. If you’ve set goals that overemphasise their SMART characteristics but underplay what actually gets you on the turbo after work, they’re not doing their job. Training hard for the sake of training hard is rarely tolerable in the long term and commitment to your goals is vital in the moments your motivation heads in the same direction as the blue cheese.
Get in touch if you want to talk your goals or 2020 training through…
*OED definition. Anecdotally, whilst I was eating the corporate sandwich for one the big banks, a colleague set a work related performance goal of ‘doing away with his earthly body by turning in to a pure form of energy’. Disappointingly, this was deemed unacceptable by the powers that be.