Goal Setting (Mental Skills 2 Of 4)

Mental Skills For Cycling Series (Part 2 of 4)

Goal setting is a hugely important step in planning your season, and is often the difference between a successful and unsuccessful training plan. When done properly goal setting can give you increased levels of motivation, help to make your training more optimal and targeted for your goal events, and ensure that you get maximum enjoyment and satisfaction from your cycling season. It is not as simple as saying “I want to win x race” or “I want to improve my FTP by x watts” One big goal is not enough. You will look at the goal, which may seem very far away from where you are now, and think you will never get there. This can lead to a drop in motivation and less focus in your training. This is why you must have short term goals, medium term goals, and long term goals. Having “steps” like these to reach your main goal makes things appear much more achievable, and ticking off your short and medium term goals as you accomplish them will give you a sense of satisfaction, and renewed motivation for the goals to come. An example of this is an A4 rider who wishes to upgrade to A1.

Breaking down your goals

This goal when looked at as a whole seems extremely daunting and for many, impossible. However when broken down into short medium and long term goals it soon becomes more manageable. A short term goal for this rider might be a weekly goal of completing all of their training sessions prescribed by their coach. Completing these short term goals continuously will lead them to their medium term goal, which might be to get 10 cycling ireland points towards their upgrade to A3, and so on. Achieving these medium term (monthly, quarterly, season long) goals will lead them towards their ultimate goal, the long term goal of becoming an A1. To look at the big picture can sometimes be overwhelming. That is why it is important to break things down into manageable steps. This also gives focus and importance to a riders daily actions. Nailing those intervals can be seen as a tangible step towards achieving something, rather than just a box that needs to be ticked.

When setting your goals you should ensure they are SMART. This gives you the best chance of achieving them.

Specific

Don’t have a vague goal of “I want to get faster” set targets such as “I want a 15 watt increase in FTP”

Measurable

Make sure you can objectively measure your goals, increase in power numbers is a perfect example

Attainable

There is no point setting yourself goals that cannot be reached. You mightn’t win the national champs next season, but you might win your local race. This is not to say you should aim low, but you should set goals that you genuinely believe you can achieve.

Realistic

Make sure your goal is realistic, and is within your reach. Goals that are unrealistic will only lead to disappointment, and possibly burnout as you will see them as impossible tasks

Timed

Putting a deadline on your goal is excellent, both for motivation, and to help structure the process of achieving the goal

Goal setting is in my opinion the single biggest thing we can do as cyclists to keep our motivation levels high. Picking a goal that really inspires you can give you something to draw on when motivation levels are low. Take the time to do some goal setting before your next training phase. I promise you it will give you renewed focus, and continued motivation throughout.

mental skills for cycling

Mental Skills for Cycling

Mental Skills For Cycling Series (Part 1 of 4)

“With weak legs and a good head you can go a long way. With good legs and a weak head you go nowhere.” A well-known Paul Kimmage quote from Rough Ride, and most cyclists will agree with the statement. Mindset and mental strength are so important in cycling, and yet these topics are seldom discussed or written about. I believe that mastering this aspect of the sport can help to improve your performance, increase motivation, and can you get more enjoyment from your cycling.  In a sport that is as mentally tough as it is physically challenging our mind can be our biggest enemy, or our greatest ally. For many riders the mental side of cycling can be challenging. With race mentality, motivation to train, and goal setting, some of the most common problems riders have in this area.

Motivation

Motivation is an area that all riders have struggled with at one time or another, whether it is motivation to train, or motivation for racing. It is a common problem area for many cyclists. This time of year is especially difficult for riders who struggle with motivation. The season has come and gone, and they are now facing into months of  rain, wind and cold. It can be very easy to lose hope, and let your end of season break carry on a few weeks more than planned, or to half heartedly go about your training, with no real goals or structure, attempting to just “stay fit” rather than improve.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is also a problem area for many riders. It is all too common for riders to start a training block, or their winter training, with no clearly defined goals. Many riders will have a vague idea of “getting stronger” or “staying fit”. These vague goals are a recipe for disaster, and are one of the reasons riders find winter training problematic. Proper goal setting can be hugely beneficial, both for motivation, and for ensuring a riders continued improvement and enjoyment of the sport.

Mentality

Mentality, especially during/before races, is also a thorn in the side of many riders, and can be a huge roadblock for riders achieving the results they are physically capable of.  Excessive anxiety before competition has a massive negative impact on performance. At every race there is at least one rider who is a bag of nerves at the start line. Body tensed up, uneasy look on their face, heart rate creeping up through the zones before a pedal is even turned. If these riders could improve their mentality, and reduce their anxiety levels pre competition, their performances would improve hugely. Just as we can train our physical abilities, so too can we train our mental abilities, and doing this can have a huge impact on our performance.

Throughout this blog series we will give you invaluable information on how to master the various mental aspects of cycling, and help you to improve your performance in races, regain motivation to train, and get more enjoyment from the sport.