The calendar has rolled over into 2015, and I find myself thinking more about the next season. At one point a couple months back I tried to write down my goals for the 2015 road season. Like most racers I started out with things like “top 10 in 2 races, get in top 1/3 of the field in my A race,” etc. However, recently I read an article on Cycling Tips about goal setting. Specifically they say that
[One] should keep goals focused on process, learning, and mastery rather than on performance or ego
Reading this made me think back to a post I wrote before titled Success as a Hindrance to Growth where I talked about how getting some good results caused me to be more timid in my racing. Rather than going for the 30% chance of winning, I went for the 90% chance of 4th or 5th. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with 5th place, but it’s fun to try new things and learn through experience. I realized that setting goals like “two top 10 finishes” might cause me to act timidly. Rather than attacking in some race I might hold back in order to ensure a “consistent” placing, rather than trying for something better.
With that in mind, here are my new “goals” for 2015. These certainly violate the rule of specificity in goal setting, but I think they’re right for me. These are (roughly) listed in the order I wish to achieve them.
2015 Racing Goals:
- Reach a fitness level necessary to hang with the Cat 4 pack (hopefully achieved by April 1)
- Improve my “pack dynamics” reading ability. For example, improve my ability to move myself within the pack, all while expending minimal energy. Also learn to read the pack to try to predict what is/will happen.
- Better understand my strengths and weaknesses, both in terms of performance and in skills. Improve my weaknesses as needed, capitalize on my strengths.
- Learn to attack. Learn when it is applicable, when it is beneficial and when it is ill-advised.
- Love racing!
Preparing for goal 1 started in November 2014, when I got on my winter training plan. In actuality it started two weeks after the end of the road season (mid-August), because I made sure to keep riding enough to keep some fitness from the 2014 season. In the future I’ll write about my winter training plan. For now, I’m just executing.
Goal 2 is something I worked on last season as well. It is hard to picture something more satisfying that moving effortlessly and smoothly through thirty other racers, all while travelling at incredible speeds. This blog will actually be a key to “achieving” this goal. Writing out my thoughts after racing helps me to pin down what worked and what didn’t. It also gives me a collection of real-world tips (from myself!) that I need to follow.
Goal 3 is another “observational” goal, but is difficult. We all have a guess about our strengths and weaknesses, but without a power meter they can be difficult to get right. Hopefully I’ll be getting a power meter this season. The psychological side of this goal is similar to goal 2, where I’ll achieve it by cataloging my thoughts and observations here.
Goal 4 is something I never really learned. In Cat 5 I never really felt confident enough to attack (see my State RR Race Report for an example). At the end of the season I had the strength to do so, but didn’t want to “risk it.” This was a mistake, and although I got better placings by playing it safe, attacking is a key skill that I did not learn in the 5’s.
Goal 5 may sound silly, but I really think it is the most important one. I’ve been doing winter training for at least two months now, and it’s not terribly fun. It’s easy to get discouraged and end up skipping workouts. I question whether it’s worth it to put in as much time as I do, and if the payoff is really worthwhile. But yesterday I watched a video on YouTube of Rahsaan Bahati racing. It’s a Pro/1/2 race shot on a GoPro. Watching those guys fly past each other, dive into corners and sprint for the line really reminded me just how fun racing is. As anyone who’s done it knows, racing is an incredible thrill (when you’ve got a decent level of fitness that is!). Sure, I could take it easy this off-season, sacrifice some early season results, and perhaps build into form by the last month or two of the season. But that would mean denying myself the fun of really racing in April through June! To me, it’s worth these months of hard work in order to have a complete season of enjoyable racing. So, if racing isn’t fun, perhaps because of stressing too much about results or fitness, I just need to relax any remind myself why I’m doing this. Without this one, none of this is worthwhile.