It is that time of year again when my thoughts turn to how I can help my clients become more accomplished athletes in the coming 2022 season. Accomplishment is achieved when you are successful in achieving what you set out to do. It is deeply personal and has less to do with results or competition and more to do with being the very best you can be.
There are so many ways to set goals. In my life in the corporate world, I experienced numerous ways to do this and to be honest, most of them did not really deliver anything of real value. 'Goals should be SMART' we are told, but in my experience it's just not that simple. We all like to think that life can be easily organised and managed when in reality it’s a much more chaotic, path dependant journey. Specific goals you can measure are useful, but sometimes they can be more nebulous and no less valid.
And so it is with training. Prescribing training to achieve a goal is an experiment. Whilst a newbie cyclist will most likely respond to any structured training plan (a big reason why sweet-spot plans are initially so effective), a more experienced athlete requires much more thought and experimentation. Our extensive coaching experience is highly valuable and we write each and every training plan on an individual level, person by person. A level of experimentation is always needed with new clients and clients who want to make significant changes to their performance.
Goal setting has to be rooted in realism and the trade-offs have to be understood.
For example, training to significantly improve anaerobic capacity might be a valid and realistic goal. If you are an athlete with little capacity or training history in this area, it is likely that we can move the needle, but by how much is totally unanswerable at the outset. The reward to pursuing this goal might be a small or big increase in anaerobic power or capacity, but it will probably also reduce your FTP. Why? Because FTP training is all about ‘lactate utilisation and management’ whilst anaerobic training is all about producing a lot of lactate (and associated fatiguing metabolites) and adapting your body to be able to withstand them. Improving FTP and anaerobic capacity at the same time are not complementary objectives.
Our extensive coaching experience is highly valuable and we write each and every training plan on an individual level, person by person. Goal setting has to be rooted in realism and the trade-offs have to be understood.
It is really helpful to sit down and write a list of all the elements you would like to improve with your cycling and then work with your coach to group these into complimentary buckets. From there, we can write a plan of how we are going to prescribe training and measure the results. These are the strategies.
For example, your goal might be to ‘improve aerobic endurance’. This is a fantastic goal that is highly measurable. Our strategy for achieving it might be ‘to complete an 8 week block of mainly aerobic riding below the first lactate threshold’. Progress towards this goal can be tracked, training can be modulated, and after the 8 weeks, we can look at the results. Has it worked or not? If it has, then great. If it has not, then we try to understand why and modify the plan accordingly.
This is what you pay a professional coach for. Collaborating to nail down good goals, devising strategies for delivering them, tracking results and making the necessary adjustments to maximise the chance of success.
In addition to this, think about some non performance goals that you would like to accomplish this season. For me, the big one is 'to do as little indoor training as possible'. Why? Because I have done a lot of it in the past, I feel stale with it, and I believe that training outside will be more effective at delivering my performance goals for 2022.
If you have not thought about any of this for next season, then make a start. Write your list and start to think about how you might organise and accomplish your goals.
We are available to help you with this process via a 1-2-1 Consultation. These are a great way to get your thinking straight and start the season with a training framework which will maximise the chances of you being successful.