By Kristin Keim
Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you’re all reading this thinking, “I already set goals so what more is there to know?” Well, if you are already on track with setting goals then GREAT but no matter if you’ve got ten goals or maybe zero, I invite you to sit back and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation while I hand over some tools for your cycling tool box: mental not mechanic.
First off, I wanted to reintroduce myself from our last meeting where I actually set my own goal for contributing a Sport Psychology article each month for all my cycling friends and fans. I know I’m cutting it close for November but like all goals I knew that this one would be realistic if I just took the time to let my inspiration do the writing.
Now back to Goal Setting, I’m sure you’ve all heard the term but have you ever been told what it really means? Let’s first define a goal, which is something you want to achieve and goal setting can help you achieve it. Goal Setting can help you reach what you thought could only be a dream. Effective goals are accomplished by being specific with your strategy and timeline. Goals can also influence your cycling performance whether it be training in the off season, for specific races, or to just beat all your friends in the local bakery ride it’s important to understand how effective goal setting can be to your sport and life in general. It’s been proven that goals can help with addressing proper levels of anxiety and improving confidence and motivation.
In this article I’d like to introduce the idea of setting specific goals and how each goal can have a positive contribution to your training and racing!
Types of Goals
Outcome Goals – focus on the result between opponents or teams.
Example: I’m going to win the local time trial.
Note: These types of goals can be motivating but are actually not the best types to focus on because they tend to lead to increased levels of anxiety and irrelevant cues if focused on prior to races.
Performance Goals – focus on achieving performance objectives, usually on the basis of comparisons with your own previous performances.
Example: Racing the time trial in 20 minutes, which is 2 minutes faster than last season.
Note: These are actually great goals to set because they lessen the chance of creating negative or irrelevant anxiety levels while increasing motivation throughout the training season.
Process Goals – Also known as Task goals, focus on the actions you must engage in during performance to execute or perform well.
Example: In the time trial, you may want to set a goal of keeping your head/shoulders in a more relaxed aero position while focusing on your cadence as a means of distracting yourself from the pain that comes along with the ‘race of truth.’
Note: These goals are excellent to use with your performance goals and can be tweaked throughout the season to help you do your best at the time trail or whatever race you’re aiming to have a peak performance.
When you start to make those positive, powerful and productive goals (like right now as you’re reading this) make sure to make SMART-ER GOALS!
S – specific
M – motivational/measurable
A – achievable/adjustable
R – realistic/relevant
T – time-based
E – evaluate
R – reflect
It’s always important to tell your coach, teammates, training partners, sport psychology consultant, family, or even me so that you’re accountable to these goals and can get the needed support to help you achieve them, which I know you will!
I also want to add that one of the goals in the off season, or if you’re about to head to Cyclocross Nationals is to make sure you’re having fun and to use these goals as a spring board for the passions that get you on that saddle and to that start line.
Now put these mental tools to the test…Lebe Deine Leidenschaften.
Kristin Keim is a graduate student at John F. Kennedy University where she is currently working on her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. After racing a couple of seasons as a Cat 1 road cyclist on the NRC circuit, Kristin decided that it was time to pursue a new adventure in life and is now studying to become a Sport Psychologist. Her main focus is to help her fellow athletes become more aware of the mental tools they can use to reach their full athletic potential. Kristin currently lives in Pleasant Hill, CA where she is also a member of the Wells Fargo Pro 1, 2 Women’s Racing Team. Follow her on Twitter – @thek2
Photos: Courtesy Nick Frey (top – en route to winning the 2009 U23 US Nationals Time Trial; middle & bottom – 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage 1 & Podium)