Season Planning: Setting Goals

Its early October and fall has set in here in Ontario.  The days are growing shorter and the temperatures are dropping, it wont be long until that dirty “s” word shows up in our weather forecasts.  With Il Lombardi, the Tour of Falling Leaves, in the books (won by Dan Martin) the cycling season in the northern hemisphere is coming to an end and its time to start thinking about next season.

When planning for your next season of race, or my first season, a good place to start is by setting goals.  What do you hope to achieve in this coming season?  What is going to motivate you on those days when you do not want to get on the bike?

Here are 4 principles to think about when writing goals for next season.

  1. Your goal must be measurable.  If it can not be measured how will you know if you have reached it?  Its great to say “get faster” but how are you going to measure if you have actually got faster?  A better goal would be to say “complete a 40km time trial in under an hour.”
  2. Your goal must be under your control.  Its a bad idea to set goals based on what other people might do.  Do not think about your competitors when you are setting goals.  Focus on things you can control, like “make winning break at Tour de Terra Cotta.”
  3. Your goal must stretch you.  Your goal should not be too easy or too hard.  If its too easy you wont have to challenge yourself to achieve it and if its too hard it may be detrimental to your moral when you fail to achieve it.  Goals like “finish in group at Good Friday Road Race” are too easy while one’s like “win National Championship” is likely too hard for the majority of us.  Instead, goals like “upgrade to Category III” (if you are a Cat. IV) are good goals.
  4. State your goals in the positive.  Be speaking in the positive you keep yourself focused on what you want to achieve, rather than what you want to avoid.  If you say “don’t lose Grey County Road Race” you will only know what not to do but a goal like “finish in the top 5 at Grey County Road Race” clearly tells you want to do.  What counts as loosing a race anyways?

Now that I have shared some principles to keep in mind while coming up with your goals for next season, I will share some of the goals I set for myself.

  1. Upgrade to Category III.  Going into my first season of racing it sometimes feels like this is a bit of stretch since I do not know what to expect or how strong I am.  But it is a long season with lots of opportunities to get points and I believe this goal will really motivate me to train smart.
  2. Finish in Top 5 at Real Deal ITT.  Time trialing is my biggest strength.  I already have reasonable muscular endurance and the ability to suffer.  Based on last years schedule, this race should fall near the end of May giving me plenty of time to improve my time trialing.
  3. Win Beginners Road Race at Tour de Terra Cotta.  Held annually on the Civic Holiday in August, the Tour de Terra Cotta makes an excellent second race period and I think by then I should be strong enough to challenge the finish of this race.

Alongside these season long goals, I also set 5 training objectives.  They focus on specific areas and have deadlines spaced throughout the season.  These are a good time to set some goals for working on your weaknesses and prepare for specific events.

  1. Improve force: squat 1.3 x BW by end of Base 1
  2. Improve training consistency: complete all workouts during Base periods
  3. Improve muscular endurance: complete sub 25min 15km TT in May
  4. Improve time trialing: complete sub 23min 15km TT in August
  5. Improve tactical awareness (subjective)

As you can see, each training objective focuses on a particular area and have deadlines by which I wish to achieve them.  Like my season goals, they are challenging, measurable (for the most part), and under my control.  For me they focus on areas I believe are weak (force, endurance, experience) but also areas I want to improve further (muscular endurance).

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to spend time talking about training in general and my training plans for next season.  Hopefully you will be able to find some useful information or you may have something helpful to include, if so post it in the comments.

By the way, I am working with Joe Friel’s The Cyclist’s Training Bible. 

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