Goal setting in cycling

Goal setting in cycling

Goal setting gives you a target to aim for, a purpose to your training and helps to motivate you. Simon Doughty outlines the principles of achieving successful results.

The idea of goal-setting originally came from the business world in the 1970s, but it was picked up by sport a few years later and all top athletes now some form of goal setting to help them achieve the results they are seeking. There is a simple mnemonic to guarantee that your cycling will be suitably focussed: SMARTER.

Specific - your target must be specific. 'To get better' is not specific. To win a medal, to complete an event or to achieve a particular time in an event or over a training course, these are specific.


'I didn't say I was going to be World Champion this year...'

Measurable - hand in hand with the above, your target must be measurable - or you won't know if you've succeeded or not!

Agreed - as an athlete you must agree the goal, with yourself, with your coach and perhaps with your family. If you don't like the goal, you'll probably not be committed to the necessary training and hard work to achieve it.

Realistic - sorry, but it's no good thinking you'll win the Tour de France if you've just taken up cycling at the age of 35. However, there are plenty of other targets that you can reach. Also, make your goal fit in with your available time and resources for training and competition.

Time phased - every target must have a time by which it must be completed. Otherwise you can just drift on saying 'I didn't say I was going to be World Champion this year.'

Exciting - your target must be a challenge. Targeting a finish just one place better than last year, or making a one second improvement on your 25 mile time trial time isn't a big challenge. Make sure that you have to work a bit harder so that the success will be a bit sweeter. You have to be motivated to tackle the task you have set yourself.

Recorded - write down your goal. Share it with someone else (especially your family and your coach) so that they can support you on the way to your target. A written record of your also means that you can check it later and determine if you have actually achieved what you set out to do and not drifted onto something else along the way.

By setting a goal, you can then calculate progressive stepping-stones to achieve. These will help you reach your target within your agreed time scale and help you monitor your progress, to provide additional motivation and boost your confidence.

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