Applying some well-trodden ground rules
to your aspirations vastly increases your chance of realising your
potential. This factsheet
gives you the knowledge and understanding you need to build your own
blueprint for a self-determined, structured,
training program. This
factsheet and the information in it, if followed, is guaranteed to improve
your performance. A bold statement but a fact.
A structured training programme can give you a sense of
well-being through knowing nothing in your race preparation has been left to chance.
It gives you the motivation to push on when the training gets tough,
because if it isn't tough how is your body going to progress and over-compensate?
It provides a route-map to your stated goals and
it works in pre-planned test sessions and benchmarks against which you can measure your
SMARTS, is my variant of an acronym that has a long and
distinguished history. The generic process has been used by
athletes, performance coaches and management of all disciplines to ensure that goals set
in any context, not just cycling, stand a greater chance of reaching a
successful outcome. It sounds corny but it works, and as I've said a
thousand times before if you always do what you've always done, you'll
always get what you've always got. So if you haven't tried it before
give it a go. What have you got to lose?
So, to the details. Goals should always be specific.
Specific goals have far
higher success rates than non-specific aims. "I'd like to do well", is
a laudable aim but not very specific. "I'm going to achieve a personal best in a 10 mile time trial"
is a little bit better. At least it has an air of specificity about
Having a specific goal of achieving a personal best in a 10 mile time trial is okay.
But wouldn't it be better to make your goal a little more
measurable? Lets say your previous best was 25 minutes
dead, that's two and a half minutes
a mile. If your stated goal was to do a 24 minute ride, well now we
have something to measure. You now need to ride a mile in two
minutes twenty-four seconds. That's something for which you can train and
measure progress against.
Making goals achievable is the only way to guarantee
success. Goals should be challenging but not out of reach.
Saying your going to do a 24 minute ten, then being happy with a 24:59 is
not really challenging is it? However trying to do a 19 when you've
yet to break 27 minutes is probably not on for this year. The
chances of "achieving" this goal are slim; in my opinion.
So aim for an achievable goal that's within your potential but outside of
your current ability. Once you've achieved it you can always set another one.
Nothing breeds success like success.
All goals, if they are to remain at the forefront of your
mind and ultimately prove successful must be recorded.
Make sure you write it down, keep it where you can see it and tell
everyone you can about what you intend to do. Once a goal has been recorded the
chances of success grow exponentially. Write it down and stick it
where you can see it every day or next to your bike so every time you go
training you know what you're training for.
Attach a timescale to your
goal otherwise it becomes little more than a wish. I want to ride a
24 minute time trial is not a SMART goal. Because if you don't do it this
week, then it's okay because there's always next week, or next month, then
next season! If you write down and stick next to your bike, "I'm going to ride a 24 minute dead,
time trial at this year's Island Championships", you're well on our way to
fulfilling all of the requirements for a well defined goal.
When setting a main goal sub-goals are a crucial consideration. There is no use
sitting down in January, deciding you're going to do a 24 dead ten at
writing it on your garage wall, then going off to do a string of 50 mile club runs,
throw in a few intervals mid-March, then ride the course the Thursday
before the event on your time trial-bike to see how hard you need to ride
during the event! Two weeks before the race, which
appears quicker than you realise, is too late to try and "get some speed in your legs".
But you'll be surprised how many people try!
Work backwards from your event,
place your sub-goals at five and nine weeks before, plan where you
need to be at these way-points and carry out tests to make sure you're on track.
Plan a progressive build up and make sure you allow for a proper taper before the
event. Doing a practice run on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the
event isn't going to help you achieve your goal.
This is a subject I could write
a book about, but I wont. This factsheet is here as a taster to
allow you to help yourself plan your season and your training.
Closer to the season further factsheets will follow describing what you
can do to help yourself once your training is complete. But for now,
some event-specific tests,
prepare an event-specific plan
and make sure everything you do is a step towards your event-specific SMARTS goal.
Remember, if your goal isn't:
you may greatly increase your
capacity to be disappointed. Which would be a shame just for the sake of
doing something a little different.