Goal Setting and Planning

No one chooses to enter a Time Trial (TT) because it’s good fun, and if anyone does tell you a TT is fun then they are either lying or they don’t push hard and aren’t setting the times that they are capable of.

So, if it’s not fun and it hurts so much then why do so many people get up at ungodly hours of a weekend to race in TTs. Well the fun bit is getting back to the HQ and seeing your time up on the results board, and if it’s a PB it makes it even better. So, it’s the satisfaction of setting a good time or better still a PB that draws people into the sport whether they are the young guy trying to win overall or the octogenarian trying to beat his fellow octogenarians or better still the ubiquitous MAMILs.

But how do you go about being able to set those good times or PBs? Just getting out on your bike regularly and getting the miles in is a good start and could provide the results that you desire but just plodding along mile after mile week after week won’t enable you to reach your full potential. In my experience in order to be satisfied with your results over a season you need to plan your training and set some targets.

With a target you know what you want to achieve, and with a plan you then set out a way to hit that target. But you need to make both the target and plan realistic and achievable.

So now you have set yourself a target what’s the best way to create a plan to try to achieve that target? For me it’s to look in the events calendar and choose an event that you want to hit a target at, then work back 12 to 16 weeks and from then you start your focussed training. If you are reading this at the beginning of May, 16 weeks away is the end of August and historically some of the fastest times are set in August, so what’s stopping you?

Why 12 to 16 weeks? For me that is a time frame in which you can achieve significant fitness improvements but it’s not so long that you could start to get bored. I then break the 12/16 weeks into 4 week blocks, these are broken down into 3 weeks Hard and 1 week Easier/Adaptation. By breaking the 12/16 weeks in this way you can train hard but not at the expense of a normal home and social life, and it helps if you to tell your family when the Easier/Adaptation weeks occur so that they know when you are going to be more sociable!

So now you’ve set your target and created a plan that involves bite sized blocks of training how do you fill those blocks? There are a number of schools of thought and methodologies regarding the optimal training method for endurance athletes. Examples being High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Sweetspot Training and Periodised Training. You may well have heard or read about some or all of those.

Personally, I follow the Periodised Training model as it is relatively simple and there is plenty of research and evidence to back up that it works. So, what is it? As the name implies, polarised training emphasises the opposite ends of the training spectrum, so in any given week you do both really hard efforts and easy aerobic rides.

I know you are thinking that all sounds great but what does it mean in reality, so here are some basic definitions. Easy aerobic rides are any ride that your heart rate doesn’t go above 80% of your maximum heart rate. An easy indicator that you are under 80% of MaxHR is that you can hold a conversation. The 81% to 100% of MaxHR range is from being unable to hold a conversation to feeling as though yuou are a about to pass out.

So, in real world terms for someone who can train for 10 hours a week they would do 8 hours of Easy Aerobic riding and 2 hours of Hard Efforts. That 2 hours of Hard Efforts would be spread out over the course of the week and would be made up of efforts ranging between 5seconds to 20minutes in duration. That’s all I’m going to give away here, but if you are interested in finding out more then just ask.

Until next month safe riding and remember your most enjoyable and satisfying race season could be this year with planning and realistic goal setting.

Alistair Lang
(This article was first published in the April 2018 Redmon Quarterly Newletter.)