New Years Goal setting!

While it is a little bit cliche  to sit down and look over your goals on new years eve, visit it does make sense to double check your 2013 race goals at this time if you are an athlete looking at the new years calendar.  Most of us have some time now to prepare for our events and its a good time to start looking at the calendar to really settle into training for your goal event.  At any rate, check cliche or not, pulmonologist its better to to have an annual event to sit down and double check your goals whether they are bike racing, or just general life goals, than tramp along through your training not really knowing what you are doing with it.

There is the classic goal setting rule of when looking at goals to make sure they fit into the “smart” category.  What smart stands for is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time based. I can think of about 4 different classes through high school or collage that has talked about it, but the more I coach people and assist in their goal making process, the more I realize how important each of these different components become in setting good goals.

For example, if you just say “I want to be the best bike racer in Oregon”. thats really not very specific, it is really hard to measure, nor is there a timeline.  Realistic – maybe, but again, it comes down to can it be measured and how do you measure such a thing (even the BARR has its flaws in truly finding who is the best of the best).  But, lets change that to saying “It is my goal to win the 35+ masters category at crit championships in 2013” we are now hitting all of the “smart” aspects of goal setting with a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based.

After meeting these basic parameters, its time to look at the next set of tools needed in effective goal setting and completion.

Keep your language positive

How you speak of the goals can make a big difference.  You want to be sure that you are speaking in terms that lock them into your current self.  You also want to use words that lock them into creating a bit of fire under your butt to make them happen.  You should use words like “I am..” rather than “I will…”. “I am” is going to set you on your path much more, it creates a present tense of action, as opposed to “I will” which is much more fleeting and does not bring it into the present.  Other words you want to avoid are “ould”s as in “Should”, “would”, “could”.   It is important to not use words such as, “not”, “can’t” “don’t” when you are talking or thinking about your goals.  We are looking to create success in your goals, in no way do those words create anything.  You want language that reinforces your habits to make positive direction in your goals, its the first step to achieving them.

Avoid “want” in goal setting
Do not use “I want to….” in goal setting.  There is wanting something and there is doing something about what you want.  Goal setting is about the doing portion of this. “I am going to…”  “It is my goal to….” These are much better ways of stating your intentions with goal setting.  Try it yourself, just say your goals in terms of “want” and then again terms of “my goal is…” or “I am going to…”  Do you feel a difference in saying them?  We say we “want” things all the time, so in goal setting, just stating you want something is not very binding.  But the difference between wanting something and having something is doing something.  Make sure your goals are defined in ways that are bridging the gap between wanting and having, that is the purpose of the goal in the first place.  Use this in your overall goal setting language, and expand it to other words as well.  Set your goals in words that you will hold yourself accountable to and words that have you initiate the actions needed to achieve them.

Write it down!
It may sound simple, but write your goals down!  Once you come up with a good goal you want to work for, write it down.  Just setting it in paper, inscribed in with your own hands and movement does a world of wonder for bringing it closer to you.  It makes it that much more real that you are doing it.  If you just talk about it, it disappears as soon as you stop talking about it thinking about it.  Write it down, make it real and make it a constant in your training, life and mind.

Now, at this point, go ahead and write down your goals for the year.  Think of where you would like to see the greatest improvements in your fitness or results using the above strategies.

Determine the factors that go into achieving your goal and make small goals as benchmarks!

Now it is time to start looking into how you will achieve your goal and what steps are needed to do so.  Let say your goal is:

“It is my goal to win the 35+ masters category at crit championships in August of 2013”

Now we have a clear cut goal that we can easily focus on, its time to start further setting smaller goals that are steps in the process in order to achieve this goal.  This is when you start to look at what your limiters are in achieving the goal at hand, and what you need to focus on to improve them.  This is also when a discussion with your coach typically begins, as the next goals become the building blocks of your training plan.  This is also when it is important to take some time to review past power files, personal bests, weaknesses, race files and any other data that will help you and your coach determine what your biggest limiters are for achieving your goal.  Lets say you have good data from last years races, including power files from races, training rides and field tests done with your power meter.  Using these, we will get the greatest idea of what to focus on.

Lets look at a couple of possible smaller goals that go into meeting your main goal and methods for measuring them:

  • Increase threshold by 5% by July 20th – Measured with threshold testing either in the lab or field tests.
  • Reduce braking in corners – being a successful crit racer is as much about technique in the race as it is fitness.  Improvements here can be evident in speed changes while looking at race files, excessive power bursts out of corners in races(Especially if you can compare your files to another racer in the same field with similar physique and fitness).  The less you brake before the corner the less you sprint after the corner!
  • Improve sprinting mechanics – factors include cadence, power, speed, torque(which are evident in power files), and also largely technique.  Sprinting technique is most evident to another person watching you, your coach can be a great eye in evaluating and making sprinting technique suggestions and also show you in your power files how the improvements in technique are improving in your speed and power!)

Now, at this point, you will continue to make smaller and smaller goals that continue to support one another and also become more and more specific to what you need for making improvements.  The more you break down the goal into smaller goals and tasks to complete, the more bench marks you have along the way to keep you on track.  Following this process develops goals that become more and more personal to your needs and become the ground work for a solid training plan.

Hopefully at this point, you are able to see how making goals is very important step in achieving success in your training, and really shapes how training is to follow.  I hope that this is has been helpful to you in setting your goals for the new year!   For questions or comments, feel free to contact me!

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