A few years ago my partner and I decided to stop making New Years Resolutions, and start making New Years Goals. This might sound like an eye-rolling game of word play, but bear with me a minute.
We realized that we seldom (never) stayed with our resolutions for long, because by saying vague things like “I’m going to bike commute to work more”, “I’m going to wake up early to train”, or “this year I’m going to get back into racing”, you’re not laying yourself any pathway for success. You’re just saying things you’d like to do, but they’re not goal oriented, and there’s no real way to chart your progress.
Once we started making Goals, things got off to a different start, because behind each Goal was a plan with clear, actionable steps.
Here is our guide to help you make this year your year to finally achieve those cycling goals.
Step 1: Set a Goal
Pick something that’s important to you, and be as specific as you can. Set specific monthly mileage, pick out a target goal event, etc… Make it challenging, but also rewarding.
If it’s an event, then pick out a time you want to be able to complete it in (i.e. ride a century in under 6 hours). If it’s mileage, then pick something that’s far above what you’re already doing (i.e. go from 75 miles a week to 200 miles a week).
Looking for a goal? Try a local charity rides, or a gran fondo or mountain bike race.
Step 2: Is this a goal you’ve set before?
Did you achieve it? Were you happy with the result? Why didn’t you achieve it, or how can you do better next year? This gives you a chance to do an after-action review on previous goals and examine what you can do differently this year.
An example: my goal for 2015 was the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. While I finished, I wasn’t super happy with how I rode. Here’s my assessment why:
-Too few long distance build-up events
-Too little time spent in the mountains
-Inadequate fueling/hydrating in the first half of the event
-Carried too much clothing and repair supplies
-Bike was overbuilt for durability, and ended up being heavier than I would have liked
Having trouble getting over hills? Check out our How-To Article to make it easier.
Step 3: Start Planning
Get out a calendar, a notebook, and a pencil and start planning how you’ll achieve your goal. Look at what you wrote down for Step 2, and think about what might need to do differently this year to be more successful.
–Set mini-goals for every week and every month that can help you chart your progress
–If your goal is an event, mark the date on the calendar and work backwards from there
–Look for secondary goals you can set through the year that can help you build fitness (smaller events, local group rides, etc…)
–You don’t want to get down into the nitty gritty of what you’ll be doing on every day months in advance—part of making a plan successful is making it flexible and allowing for life to happen—but you should have a weekly idea of what needs to happen.
–Remember you have a whole year to work with, and you don’t have to do it all at once.
Looking for a new challenge to help you prepare? How about a Group Ride?
Step 4: Is This Goal Realistic?
This is where you need to be really, brutally honest with yourself. You need to decide if this is a goal that is either too hard or too easy, and if it’s a plan you can realistically stick to. Look for challenges you need to take into account (i.e. kids, family time, work commitments, etc…). Once you’ve done this, think of ways to get around the challenges.
If you’re someone who struggles to get going in the morning, making waking up a 5:00 AM to ride a part of your plan isn’t something you’re likely to stick to for long.
Instead, you might want to start by trying to wake up just 30 minutes earlier than normal and getting in a ride on the trainer instead.
Need an indoor workout? Try Riding On Rollers.
Step 5: Track Your Progress
At the end of every week do an assessment of your progress. Are you following your plan and getting closer to achieving your goal?
If not, take a close look at why you aren’t and what’s happening. Talking with friends or family can be really important for helping you identify things that might be going wrong (even if you don’t want to hear them) and figuring out how to get back on track.
Using social media can also be a giant help in keeping you accountable and getting support. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are incredibly useful to keep track of your progress, update your friends and family, and help keep you motivated.