The first thing that you have to do before even starting with a training plan is to set your seasonal goals. Having goals will help you maintain motivation and discipline by adding purpose to your everyday grind. It will also allow you to track progress. In short, a training plan is only effective when it’s moving you closer to a well-defined goal.
Make your goals smart
If you’re not sure how to define your goals you can use the S.M.A.R.T. technique. Let’s try to use it to improve an example goal a road cyclist might set, “to get faster”. To make the goal specific (S), you might want to specify which race you want to be faster in. Having a specific goal will allow you to create a specific strategy to best achieve it. To make it measurable (M), you can set a specific time you want to finish in. Measurable goals help you track progress and make appropriate adjustments. To make your goal achievable (A), you should make your finish time challenging enough but not unrealistic. Setting achievable goals keeps you motivated. To make your goal relevant (R), you should choose a race you really care about. Relevant goals will matter to you, which is essential if you’re going to dedicate your whole season to them. And lastly, your goals should be time-bound (T). In this example, choosing a specific race solves the problem because it gives you a clear start date. So, an improved version of our example goal might go something like this:
“Improve my time in the local 2020 Gran Fondo by 30 minutes.”
Different goals for different riders
Depending on your current skill level, your style of riding, and preferences, you might want to consider a variety of goals. If you need a little bit of inspiration, check out the following goals. They are all S.M.A.R.T. but only you can judge whether they are relevant (R) to you.
1. Reduce body fat by 2 % to set a personal best time in my local hill climb event in April.
2. Shave off 15 seconds on my favourite local downhill track by the end of September next year.
3. Get enough points to upgrade to a higher racing category by the end of July next year.
4. Improve my power output by 30 watts in a 1-hour effort by the end of March next year.
Once you select your goals for the seasons – and you can have multiple different ones as long as they are achievable (A) – you can start building the training plan that will give you the best chance at achieving those goals. The next article will be all about creating the big elementary building blocks of a training plan: mesocycles.