Many riders think of their finish time as the only goal in training. This often leads to disappointment as there are so many elements beyond our control which can alter our finishing time, without proving a clear picture on whether or not we have improved.
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 finish accomplishing a goal and learning from the experience. These specific goals should aim to not only maximize your strengths but also to improve on your weaknesses.
Each year I ask my riders to make a list of specific detailed goals for their main event or for the season. Afterwards, they can look back on these smaller goals and ask themselves, “Was I successful?” If yes, why? What did you do different? If no, why not? What do you need to change? Each year you will need to modify your goals so they are applicable for the year and in doing so you will aways be pushing yourself to the next level.
Examples of a goal beyond a finishing time, could be any or all of the following:
1. Nutrition – Finish the event having fuelled appropriately, keeping you energized for the entire ride.
2. Drafting – Not doing too much of the work, but staying close to the pack and sprinting when needed.
3. Pacing – Pace appropriately to finish without leaving anything in the tank but not blowing up halfway through.
4. Descending – Feel comfortable descending in a pack, not leading it and doing all the work.
5. Follow a plan – Follow a training plan, and following it on event day instead of your emotions.
6. Climbing and cadence– Pacing appropriately for the climb, staying with the group and/or climbing at a higher cadence, not mashing the pedals.
7. Match burning – Know how big your matchbook is and when you should burn 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 !! It is only through failure that we learn how to succeed, so best to do in training, instead of your event.