November ~ Goal Setting
October has been and
gone. Your month of rest is now behind you. Goes quicker than
you'd like it to, doesn't it?
Some of the Gunsite
Grupetto ready for the off
on a gloriously sunny autumnal recovery morning
Success for 2012 starts here
and starts now. But that doesn't mean you just go out and ride
fast for a couple of months; hoping to get fit in or around an event you
may or may not be doing next year.
If you want to
compete seriously next season and realize your true potential, you need to start thinking seriously about your winter training
and what your training for.
Is it a TT PB, a century ride, an Etape, a classic sportive, or a local
If, however, your reason for riding a bike is to
keep fit by riding around with friends
and socialising, well that's as good a reason as any. So crack on.
Not everyone wants to be a racer or has a competitive objective lined
up. But if you're reading this website, you're probably one of the
former. So let's explore your options.
Structure Your Approach
To compete seriously you need to plan seriously. But it
doesn't have to be boring, longwinded, arduous or, ironically, serious.
This is the bit that gives
you the motivation to get in to that cold turbo shed, to go out when the
rain's lashing down, or get suited and booted when it's a freezing
January morning. This is the bit that can make or break your
It's also a good way of
keeping yourself busy while the X-Factor or Strictly, is filling the
airwaves and entertaining the masses.
Using our slightly modified,
hardly original but surprisingly ignored, business strategy approach, we
need to Think ~ Plan ~ Act our way to success. As we've said
elsewhere, "Hope is not a Strategy".
Think about what you want from next season
and draw up a shortlist of pre-defined goals. Lose weight, gain
power, raise cadence, etc.
Next create an action
(training) Plan. A
structured, step by step route-map to help you
month by month move closer to those prioritised goals. Don't just
write a list and put it in a drawer.
Follow the plan and
Train your body, through sustained adaptation and overload,
to better prepare for meeting the requirements of your pre-defined goal.
Before you start to think about what you want from next season you should,
as we said last month, ask yourself the following questions about your
previous season. Did I...
race to my preseason
enjoy my season from
beginning to end
▼ race with my peers on an
▼ balance training & racing with the needs of real life
Use the questions above to
reflect on last season's achievements and to set and adjust your goals for the
forthcoming year. But before you plan any goals for next season
please read the rest of this page,
Goals need to conform to a
simple protocol in order to aid and secure successful accomplishment. All
goals need to follow the SMARTER
Goals should be:
what exactly are you going to do
Measurable; how will you know you've achieved
▼ Achievable; is it within your physical
▼ Realistic; do all the other parameters
▼ Timescaled; by when are you going to
Enforceable; be accountable to someone
write it down so you can see it every day
following two statements.
Next year, I'm going to do
well and win a 25mile time trial.
I'm going to plan my training to ensure I can go under the
hour in September's Local 25 TT Championship.
If I do I'll buy a new helmet
if not I'll ride
the next evening ten in a thong
Statement one is a
laudable aim but a goal? Who defines well? It's specific, I'll
give you that, but by when will it be accomplished? If you're
currently banging out 1:09, 25's, how realistic is it?
Also, many things are
out of your control. Even if you say you're going to win and train
to your absolute physical limits, if Bradley Wiggins turns up (which
actually happened to one of our riders on one of their objective rides!) and goes faster, you've failed
due to factors totally out of your control! Don't set yourself up to fail.
Statement two says
exactly what you're going to do. When you're going to do it. And what
reward you'll enjoy when you've achieved it.
If you go under the
hour and don't win, you've still achieved your objective. If there
isn't a penalty for failure or a reward for success, where's your
extrinsic motivator? You need to have a little external pressure;
even if it is self-inflicted.
Also you may have
the physical attributes to reach your goal but if you've not ridden for
two months and want to win next week; how realistic is that? Keep
things in proportion.
you set finishing the Etape with a gold standard ride as your goal, and you
only have five hours a week in which to train, then it could be a tall
So set your SMARTER goals to match your available training
time, physical attributes, and available resources.
decide, write it down, bounce it off someone else as a sanity check and
stick it where you can see it every time you get on your bike.
it your reason for training, your reason for living and your reason for
putting yourself through the pain of banging out the 60 second killers. If you do, you could
very well end up with a nice
trophy at the end of the year!
There's also an
excellent resource (even though I say so myself) by clicking the
for Victory link or checking out the Think Like a Pro factsheets
on the top of the menu list on the right.
When preparing for
the Paris-Roubaix sportive, (above) I placed a poster of Gilbert Duclos Lasalle riding
the Hell of the North, right bang in front of my
For a whole year, he was pinned up right in my eye line.
I got on my turbo to do another hideous set of leg snapping intervals, he was staring
back at me.
Whenever I thought I was shot, I always found the inspiration to try just
one more. You can't imagine how much it helped a
renowned slacker like myself. I got that engrossed I even thought
of fitting a pair of Rock Shox to my Colnago! Worked for Gilbert!
Find your own motivator and use it to inspire you towards
Once you've defined where you
want to be, you need to understand where you are now and how you're going
to close the gap between the two. A SpiderGram
is a tool that can help you do this.
SpiderGrams can be designed
to cover the
attributes needed to compete at almost any level within our sport.
Some attributes, depending on the discipline, are more important than others.
Sprinting is not really called for when riding Paris Roubaix; but muscular
endurance is. Also bike handling skills aren't really called for
when riding up Alpe D'Huez. But they are if you want to come down it quickly
First, define the
attributes you need.
Secondly, rate where you need to be with a score
of one to ten. Be realistic, not everything is, or can be, a full
Step three requires you to
determine what you currently have by carrying out a self-analysis
on your selected attributes. Be truthful about your strengths and weaknesses
and don't be over-critical.
Score your current attributes
out of ten and define the gap. Blue is where you need to be, red is
where you now are,
Within five minutes you can actually see, laid
out before you, the skills and attributes you need to address, over the
winter, to make you a fitter, faster, stronger rider next season.
Click here to go to your
Next month I'll show you how to
build a plan to specifically target your training to close the gaps
between now and your timescaled objective.
Train to a
If you look at some of the other factsheets listed on the left you will
begin to see that cycling is all about oxygen storage, oxygen generation and
oxygen delivery. That's a lot of oxygen, which unsurprisingly, is
what you need to win races.
Winning races is
about getting as much oxygen in to your lungs as possible (VO2max)
and efficiently and effectively distributing it around your body and
getting it to your muscles (Lactate
Threshold & Anaerobic Capacity).
To do a 25 mile TT in an hour you need to knock out between 270 and 300 watts for the entire hour.
For a 70 kilo rider this means you have to have a VO2max of around 57
ml/kg/min, or process nearly four litres of oxygen a minute.
Shifting oxygen from the air
outside your body to the inside of your muscles is a complex operation.
And to do it you need these little babies ~ mitochondria.
want to ride the hour you need loads of these little oxygen tanks, and the only way you can
develop them is by using your winter training time effectively, or taking EPO. One has considerably
less risk attached to it than the other.
To find out how much you
need to improve, you need to know how much you have now. The only way
of doing that is by taking a test,
doing your structured training then re-testing at an appropriate point to
measure the improvement and set the levels for the next training period.
Don't leave these things to chance.
November is the time to define objectives, or at least form the basis
of a holding point to be achieved as a base camp.
November is when it all
begins to kick off. It's the time we start intelligently eating, effectively training
and actively resting; preparing ourselves for a faster new year.
Next season is still five
months away but that doesn't mean we shouldn't start testing, preparing, and planning for it
Sit down and
think about what you would expect from next
year. If it's to do the hour then you need to start thinking about
how you can build your VO2max, cruise at 300 watts and consistently and
comfortably ride at an average
of 25 mph.
Progression, recovery and adaptation
are the keys to your success so you
need to build them into your plan.
have a plan stick to it and train
the plan. We've seen it before, on much more than one occasion, where the plan called for an hour
steady and the rider did three hours in the hills because they felt so
strong. Two weeks later they've hit a block as they can't manage the
planned power intervals due to tiredness.
Fight the temptation to follow
the crowd. Believe in yourself, believe in your objectives,
and if you've followed the criteria above, believe in your plan. Once you do, you're
as good as there!
Until next time, when we'll
Be Good, Ride Hard, Suffer