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Goal Setting for Athletes

By Sofia Marin | In General, Race Tips | on March 10, 2016

Do you know why you train and race?

What keeps you coming back to the bike, day after day? When it’s dumping rain and you have a training ride scheduled; when you kit up and get out the door before the sun rises; when you dig so deep everything starts to go black; when you get dropped only to pick yourself back up and keep going; what drives you?

Goal setting is one of the most important yet overlooked keys to developing a smart training plan and maximizing your performance.

When the going gets tough, meaningful and specific goals will keep you motivated and provide you with a sense of direction, focus and a feeling of accomplishment.

Ask yourself:  Why am I doing this? If you don’t know why you endure the suffering and the sacrifice, motivation will quickly wane. A skilled coach will help you achieve your goals through creating specific training plans, offering thoughtful guidance, and working with you to balance priorities and take things one day at a time.

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Achieve athlete David Mesa trains off the beaten path to keep motivation up.

We’re sure you have high hopes for the year ahead. Let’s make those goals tangible and specific.

Here are a few tips to get started:

 

1) Evaluate Current Abilities

  • Take a moment to assess your current physical conditioning (like FTP), as well as your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Acknowledge your current lifestyle responsibilities, such as family and career commitments.
  • Evaluate your mindset. What are you prepared to do to achieve your goals? How much time and money are you willing/able to commit? How much pain are you willing to endure?

Self evaluation will give you a clear picture of where you are and where you want to go.

 

2) Dream Big

Before setting goals, allow yourself to dream big. Imagine the greatest accomplishment you would like to achieve in your athletic career, imagine nothing holding you back. Even if the probability is incredibly low, aiming high will allow you to view yourself as being without limits and help you overcome obstacles.

National Champion

Achieve Head Coach Dana Williams achieving his dream goal of becoming a national champion

3) Set Specific Goals

What do you hope to achieve in the next 2-5 years, the next 1-2 years, the next few months? Keeping our dream in mind, we start goal setting by progressing from the broad and long-term to the specific short-term. Remember, it’s not just fitness that wins bike races. Incorporate goals that prioritize psychological mindset, tactics/strategy prowess, and handling skills.

wattage chart

Long-term Goals (next 2-5 years)

Long-term goals should be more realistic than your dream, and with a specific time frame for accomplishment.

Ex: Upgrade to Cat 1; Increase Functional Threshold Power (FTP) to 5 watts/kg; Place Top 20 at a U.S. National Championship event.

Intermediate Goals (next 1-2 years)

Intermediate goals should be specific, measurable, reasonable, and almost entirely within your control. This means we avoid creating goals focused around a particular race or placement because there are too many variables beyond our control in race situations.

Ex: Increase FTP by 10 percent; Improve Mt. Diablo hill climb by 2 minutes; Complete 25 races this season.

Short-term Goals (next few months to 1 year)

Short term goals are by far the most specific. They should be quantifiable, attainable, flexible, and clearly contribute to your intermediate and long-term goals.

Short term goals set us up for success, creating very specific markers of improvement that are easily identified. Accomplishing goals that are demanding but possible will improve an athlete’s motivation and confidence. Short term goals can be specific to races, training load and volume, etc.

Ex: Train 15 hours/week; Complete 90% of all assigned workouts; Consistently place top 10 in road races.

Pre-season weight training with Achieve Athlete Randy Bramblett.

Pre-season weight training with Achieve Athlete Randy Bramblett

 

4) Give yourself a Motivational Phrase

Craft a concise, powerful phrase or affirmation to remind yourself why you train and race. You will repeatedly say this phrase to yourself when training/racing feels unbearably hard or your enthusiasm dips. This can relate to your dream or long term goals and reminds you why you are doing this.

Ex: This is what it takes to be the best; Pain is temporary; You can do it; You have what it takes; Suffer now to feel strong later; This isn’t supposed to feel good; Progress not perfection.

 

Credit Doug Pensinger Getty Images

Credit Doug Pensinger Getty Images

 

5) The Most Important Goal

Do your absolute best. Success requires a commitment to the future, but also complete dedication to the present moment. The only time frame we can control is right now. If you do your best, you cannot fail. Asking the best from yourself right now will set you up for a lifetime of success.

Best of luck athletes!

– Coach Sofi

 

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A rainy forecast doesn’t stop Achieve Athlete Andy Goessling from training.

 

*Sources: Performance Cycling: Training for Power, Endurance and Speed. David Morris

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