Many riders think of their finish time as the only goal. This often leads to disappointment as there are so many elements beyond our control which alter our finishing time without giving a clear picture on whether or not we have improved.
Last year, I asked my riders to include specific detailed goals for every event. If you did this, go back to those goals and review them from last year. Were you successful? If yes, why? What did you do different? If no, why not? What do you need to change? In your review, modify your goals so they are applicable for this year and in doing so you will be pushing yourself to the next level.
Completing a ride under the time you had anticipated is always exciting. But you won’t learn anything from the event if you don’t recognize the things you did well and the things you still need to work on. Having specific goals, beyond the finishing time, guarantees that no matter what your time is, you can still come out learning something and having a sense of accomplishment. These specific goals should aim to not only maximize your strengths but also to improve on your weaknesses.
Examples could be any or all of the following:
1. nutrition – appropriate fueling, electrolytes and hydration to keep you full of energy for the entire ride
2. drafting – not doing too much of the work, staying close to the pack, sprinting when needed
3. pacing – pace appropriately to finish without anything left in the tank but not blowing up halfway through
4. descending – be comfortable descending in a pack, not leading it and doing all the work
5. learning how to use your power meter – and then following it on event day instead of your emotions
6. climbing and cadence– pacing for the climb, staying with the group, climbing at a higher cadence, not mashing the pedals
7. match burning – know how big your matchbook is and when you should use them
Once you have identified which elements you would like to work on, practise them during training. Although we all want to be the fastest in EVERY ride, training is just that – training. So this is your time to try out new things and push the limits. If you try something new and you fail in training – TERRIFIC !! because it is only through failure that we learn how to succeed.