Whether you are aiming for a podium at National Championship or just want to be a little healthier, all bike riders can benefit from setting appropriate SMART goals. SMART is an acronym used to set Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound goals.
S – Specific
The first step to making a SMART goal is to be very specific. You can set a broad big picture goal but from there it is important to articulate the smaller process goals that will help you achieve the big goal. An example of a broad goal is ‘to do better than last year’ or ‘get fit’. Ambiguous big-picture goals need to be funnelled down into attainable process goals to be check-marked along the way to the big goal. Specific goals look at what is needed to get to the big-picture goal. A more specific goal might be to place higher at your next National Championships. Even more specific would be to notice that the championship course has a lot of climbing in it and choose a specific goal of becoming a faster climber. Also, to get fit, what does that look like or mean to you? Perhaps it means riding more kilometers, a goal weight or size, or the ability to achieve a fitness task.
M – Measureable
Another way to help select a specific goal is to determine if there is a good way of measuring success. A SMART goal will have an end result that can be measured. A measureable goal produces accountability and keeps you on track to know if you are getting closer to reaching your goal. Becoming a better climber can be measured by a hill climbing workout done every week or every other week, whether it is increasing the number of hill repeats in a workout, or reaching the top in a single effort with the KOM or QOM Strava record. If the goal is to ride more kilometers to get fit, start keeping a log of kilometers each week and increase the weekly count by 5 or 10km. If the goal is to lose 10lbs use the scale regularly to keep you on track.
A – Action-orientated
In order to achieve your goal you must do something. You will not reach your goal just by wishing for it to happen. Make a plan and choose a couple of steps that will lead you to reaching your goal. To be the best climber you need to commit to doing hill repeats regularly. If you want to get fit, ride more kilometers this year than ever before, or lose that weight, you need to oil that chain and lay down some rubber on the road.
R – Realistic
A successful goal needs to be realistic. A good assessment of your present situation will help you determine what a realistic goal might be. Consider your work schedule, your family needs, current commitments and present fitness while setting your goals.
T – Time-bound
Finally, your goal needs to be written on a calendar with an end-date. An open-ended goal becomes a never ending fight where preoccupation with previous habits distract you from really digging in and reaching your goal. If you want to climb faster and have decided to include hill repeats in your weekly training plan, set up monthly markers such as ‘x’ number of hill repeats by the 30th of each month. In addition to setting a year-end kilometer goal, set monthly kilometer goals to keep you on track. If you want to lose weight before the next big race or before your best friend’s wedding make sure you circle that date on the calendar. A deadline will help keep you motivated to work hard because you know that it has a foreseeable end.