I always enjoy the arrival of the New Year and the excitement that comes with it. Another year of training and riding and an opportune time to reflect on last years results and in that context, time to start thinking about the year of riding that lies ahead.

In thinking about the year ahead, I find it effective to put some structure into my plans by starting to set some short and longer term goals. I always like to have a big goal for a ride/event during the year but that is a long way off, so I have short term goals along the way that help me perform at optimal levels by the time my “big ride” comes along. In previous years it was an important race but since I have retired from racing it’s now an important recreational event.

After a couple of days of thinking about what is possible with work commitments, financially and allowing for plenty of quality family time, its time to get a bit more serious. I always start with a clear objective or objectives. Objectives can combine a multitude of short term or mini goals and usually one main goal that I refer to as THE ONE! I like to break my objectives into 12 week blocks, or 3 blocks each of four weeks duration. This keeps it interesting and allows me to focus on gradual periodisation throughout the year. Not unlike stage gates for a project I check in on milestones achieved along the way to make sure progress is on track, if not I make amendments to suit the objective.

For example as part of my objective or goal setting I always like to lose some weight and get some speed in the legs over summer.

For you it might be to build leg muscles, work on your core strength or beat your current PB up your least favourite hill! What about beating your long time combatant in an individual time trial? Or alternatively it might be as simple as going up one grade in your local club racing or doing a personal best on a up and coming cycling event or even a local weekend ride.

The point of establishing an objective is to make it real, it must be measurable and of course time bound i.e what is it, (you must actually be able to have a reasonably good chance of achieving it with some hard work) how do you know when you have achieved it and lastly when am are you going to do it by?

Take the next step. Despite the fact I have retired from racing I still like to make a training plan and stick to it.

Even the best cyclists i.e the pros do this routinely. I have my training and racing diary sorted out so its broken into manageable and enjoyable chunks. It’s common knowledge that you can’t go well all the time when training in a very structured way due to the work / rest efforts associated with building muscular endurance.

For some goals I need much harsher, lets call them honest reminders. I like to write these ones down in big bold letters and put it somewhere prominent. If it relates to my diet I put it on the fridge, in the pantry or where I store my bikes. Your desk at work is also another good place. By writing it down I am taking accountability for my actions and signing up to the goal with more conviction. I also know when I have deviated from what I wanted to achieve.

Make sure you visit your end goal regularly i.e visualise what it looks and feels like particularly in times where you find it challenging to stick to the objective you initially set. For example you want to reach 74kgs to help you climb more efficiently. Think about this before your second helping of desert or reaching for the second beer in the fridge! Or if you do, put in an extra 20 minutes on the ergo! Which is easier?

Of course you also need to set a reward that matches the goal. This may be a new set of flash wheels, an entry into a particularly hard race or cycling event, or a night out at a favourite restaurant with friends or family. This self reward component is very important as the key is to acknowledge that you have achieved your goal. It doesn’t have to be expensive either; just something to signify you achieved what you set out to. Lastly, ensure to share your goal with others, such as your friends and family. This way everyone can share the successes and enjoyment of our fantastic sport.

Good luck and all the best for a successful year of racing and training.

8 Tips for Goal Success

1) What are your objectives / goals? Include sub and mini goals Do you have one big goal write it down and refer to it regularly make it visible

2) Where are you currently? What would you like to change and why?

3) What are some of the training options available for you to achieve your objectives? (i.e: racing, motor pacing, hill sprints, time trials, diet, core strength or ergos)

4) Determine a rough training plan suited to achieving your objectives, consult with your coach who can help with this

5) Set and commit to the plan: this will be the what, when & how of you achieving your objective Provide visible reminders and regular reflection

6) Review, analyse, assess how are you tracking modification required?

7)  Link back to the original objective or goal

8) Celebrate and share your successes at agreed milestones!