November Goal Setting

That's it, October has been and gone.  Your month of rest is now behind you.  If next season you want to compete seriously then you need to now start thinking seriously about your winter training and what your training for.  If, however, your reason for riding a bike is to ride around with friends and socialise then that's as good a reason as any.  So crack on.

To compete seriously you should plan seriously, that, however, doesn't mean you need to do serious training.  Not yet anyway.  First, just think about what you want from next season and set your goals.  Next you draw up an action plan to help you achieve those goals but in the meantime you carry out your steady state endurance rides to train your body to begin the adaptation and overload process for the rigours to come.

Think
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 expectations
enjoy my season from beginning to end
race with my peers on an equal footing
balance training & racing with the needs of real life

Goal Setting
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 principle.  Goals should be:

Specific; what exactly are you going to do
▼ Measurable; how will you know you've achieved it
▼ Achievable;
is it within your physical attributes
▼ Realistic;
do all the other parameters stack up
▼ Timescaled;
by when are you going to achieve it
Enforcable; be accountable to someone
Recorded; write it down so you can see it every day

Consider the following two statements. 

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 JCA 25 Championship.
If I do I'll buy new wheels, if not I'll ride the next evening ten in a thong

Statement one is a laudable aim but a goal?  Who defines well?  How would success be measured, by when will it be accomplished?  Also other 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 in 2009!)  and goes faster, you've failed due to factors 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 will 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?

The only other parameters to check are, do you have it in you.  If you're currently riding a 10 in 30 minutes the chances of achieving the hour next September are slim.  If you're sixty years old and a heavy smoker then it's probably not realistic either. 

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.

And, if you set finishing the E'tape 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 order.  So set your SMARTER goals to match your available training time, physical attributes, and available resources.

Whatever you 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. 

Make it your reason for training and getting on the bike.  If you do, you could 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 Think for Victory link or checking out the Think Like a Pro factsheets on the top of the menu list on the right.

Motivators
When preparing for the Paris-Roubaix sportive, I had a poster of Gilbert Duclos Lasalle riding the Hell of the North on my workshop wall.  Right bang in front of my turbo. 

For a whole year, he was pinned up right in my eye line.  Every time I got on my turbo to do another hideous set of leg snapping intervals, he was staring back at me. 

Whenever I thought was shot, I always found the inspiration to try just one more.  Because I knew what he'd been through, one more interval seemed a walk in the park.  You can't imagine how much it helped a renowned slacker like myself. 

Find your own motivator and use it to inspire you towards your goal.

Preparing to Plan
Once you've defined where you want to be, you need to understand where you are now and how you're going to manage the closing of the gap in between..  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 quick.

First define the attributes you need; then rate where you need to be with a score of one to ten.  Step three requires you to carry out a self-analysis on your selected attributes to determine what you currently have; being truthful about your strengths and weaknesses. 

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

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.  Click here to go to your SpiderGram.

November Foundations
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, generation and delivery. 

Winning races is about getting as much oxygen in to your lungs as possible (VO2max) and efficiently and effectively distributing it directly to your muscles (Lactic 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 55.11 ml/kg/min or shift 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.

If you 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.

Recover your way to success
Recovery is an important part of your training regimen.  Make sure you give it prominence within your plan and stick to it as strongly as you stick to your scheduled workouts.  All work and no play makes Jacques and Jacqueline a sick, tired cyclist.

You should have now recovered from last season.  If you haven't stopped training then at some point in the near future you will.  The difference is, you won't have a choice in the matter.  Recovery, especially for veterans, is as crucial as training.  Train less often, train harder when you do train, and in between get quality rest.  Because a rested cyclist can train harder than a tired cyclist.  It's not difficult!

The Message
November should be a time for actively resting, intelligently eating and effectively training; preparing ourselves for a faster new year.  Next season is still five months away but that doesn't mean we shouldn't start preparing, testing and planning for it now. 

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

Once you have a plan stick to it and train according to 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 and believe in yourself and your plan.  Once you do, your almost there!