goal setting

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When Should You Start Training for Your Goal Race?

When clients are looking at starting with coaching or getting a training plan, they will often ask … “When Should I Start Training?”

It is a reasonable question  … Why start training now for something so far away, like Ironman, Leadville, Breck Epic, Road Stage? You have lots of time to get fit and to prepare for this goal. Or, at least, it seems like that now.

I usually respond with, “Why Not Start Training Now?”

If you had to be somewhere in an hour for something really important, wouldn’t you leave with a little extra time? You could always grab a coffee, or go for a walk if you get there early. Now If you are like me, the ‘being early’ thing is tough. It rarely happens, even though I leave earlier then I think I need to. Detours, traffic, and gas-station lines seem to always conspire to make time tighter than I thought. So… it is nice to have that time in order to deal with those delays and detours.

In athletic training, it is the same: if we know we are going to have to complete a task, a goal, a race, a tour, a challenge of some type, then why not start preparing now for success? It would be very rare for training to go exactly as laid out. There are little injuries, illnesses, work trips, bad weather, winter and other little ‘stops’ that we will have to add into that perfect event preparation we envision.

I consider all of the clients that I work with as athletes. That means that there should be a year-round focus on improving some aspect of our game. In September and October, that may be improving our ability to have fun on the bike, starting to cross-train slowly and work on any mobility/injury aspects we have. Heck, we might even try some meditation or yoga to work on the recovery or mental side of sport and performance. Working on nutrition (Great book = Fuel Your Ride)  or dealing with those pesky saddle sores are other areas that work well during this ‘off-season’.

Check out a book to help with Saddle, Sores and Other awkward questions you might want to ask about Saddle Sores.  

The months go quickly.

I like the idea of ‘big scary goals‘. Sometimes we need to do something beyond what we think we can or different than we have in the past. I signed up for an Ironman last year, having never done a triathlon or really swam. I committed to it about 12 months out. I started researching and going to swim lessons and getting the gear I would need that month (goggles, road running shoes, etc). Even though I started early, there was still a crunch on time given the usual work and life responsibilities that popped up during the year! I definitely enjoyed having some extra time to let my feet adapt to running on pavement, train my brain to learn how to swim and not panic in open water, and to deal with a couple of small injuries along the way. The event went really well!

Training has many elements.

If you are doing a big race like Leadville and Dirty Kanza, and even stage races on the road and MTB, you may not do 6-hour rides in October, but you certainly could do a couple hours on the bike that you think you will race, with the gear you currently have, in order to see where the weak points are. There are lots of areas in our race day performance we can work on year-round:

  • Perhaps get a friend who has done the event to come out with you and tell you about it while your ride. This insider info is valuable to add to your own experience.
  • You could take care of any bike skill issues like cornering, flat-change, or log hops to make sure you stay upright on event day (and in training).
  • Get started strength training now (perhaps with this quick routine) will let you learn the movements and become resilient before you start being concerned about your on bike numbers again.

When considering when you should start to prepare for your event remember that it is nice to take your time and not be rushed in many aspects of life. Training is no different.

An Example: 10 months Out From August Marathon/Stage/Endurance race

( I like examples! )

  • October – Preparation phase – start strength training, assess body composition and improve if limiter, assess injuries and improve before starting training, assess skills and develop! Try Yoga
  • November – A few rides outside, start prepping further for cross-training (ski, hike, run etc.), ease slowly into these, strength progresses to moderate loads/reps. Weekend cyclocross course.
  • December – Strength is heavy and the focus this month, if no injuries are present. If you are injured, focus on injuries. Intervals should focus on most limited ranges. Take 1-2 weeks low focus/intensity/volume at holidays.
  • January – Resume training with lighter endurance, a traditional base-1 phase as the New Year kicks off. Show up daily. Keep strength/mobility progressing. Sleep a lot.
  • February – Work on limiter intensity 1x weekly, work traditional muscular endurance 1-2x weekly (tempo/threshold), build endurance time in low-end ranges (cross-train)
  • March – Progress from last month, keep showing up and progressing intensity/volume, keep sleeping. Strength should be mixed up, if adapting well some power/jumping/Olympic may be added.
  • April – Depending on early season race goals, this may include more intensity and race-specific focus. Strength in maintenance.
  • May – Start the final build for big race. Building muscular endurance, some shorter early season races, a long weekend block to provide extra endurance boost
  • June  – Building muscular endurance and race-specific preparation, equipment mostly finalized. A bigger prep race (1/2 distance, 100km for a 100 mile etc)
  • july  – Final Prep / Build – long rides with a few blocked weekends around the long weekends, planning for reduced life/work stress around the event. Final travel preparations.
  • August – Race!

Rather than cramming in training, enjoy the never-ending process of improving your fitness and bike skills. Indeed, the preparation is often the most fun and remembered part of big events! 

So… Why Not Start Now?

 

 

 

 

Pick a Big Crazy Goal

What is Your Big Crazy Goal this Season and Why did you pick it? 

I did an Ironman last weekend. It was my first triathlon, which is sort of a crazy way to start doing a triathlon, but I like a good challenge and I had a lot of relevant experience that made a challenging (CRAZY), but doable goal.

 

I thought a post on WHY a mountain biker would decide to spend time away from his mountain bike to learn to swim, ride hunched over in aero position and run for extended durations on the pavement.

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Why and How can we pick BIG, CRAZY GOALS that will serve us well in the run up to the event, provide a great experience during the event and provide skills/experiences we can use in life and future adventures?

 

Do our goals serve to let us grow or do they create stress at home because we miss too many important family parties, picking the kids up at daycare, missing dinner with your family? Do our goals move us further away from other bigger, longer term goals?

 

For me, this meant considering if the time spent on swimming/running would hamper my ability to qualify for races or take me further away from being a ‘Consummate Athlete’, or have too much risk to health (ie. long term ankle/foot injury from running).

 

Crazy GOALS TO BOOST YOUR GOAL FITNESS

psyched for triathlon - peter with speed concept

For a mountain biker, it might be worth scaring yourself by signing up for a big 200km Gran Fondo. The time on the road building endurance and speed skill will boost your fitness off-road. For a road cyclist looking at Leadville or a marathon MTB race the pedal stroke, technical skills and time spent climbing will often make road riding seem more comfortable and easier to focus on the steady road efforts.

 

MEDIUM VS. LONG TERM

Goal setting can be belabored, it is easy to spend too much time dreaming of ‘when we get there’. A goal in the long-term, dream stage might be intimidating but if success is achieved along the way, as a consequence of striving for excellence there are many wins before the ‘big-crazy-day’.
Giving thought to the process that you will take to get to the big-crazy-goal will help you decide if it is a goal worth chasing. It is, after all, largely about the journey.

 

WHY did I choose Ironman as my Big-Crazy goal? 

 A) scare myself into learning to swim, not just ok but sufficient that I could swim for extended periods, save my life, adventure at something like a Mudrun/OCR, Otillio Swim-Run, go surfing or just float down a river. Swimming WAS a basic human movement I lacked and one I wanted to really learn … anything short of an Ironman didn’t scare me enough to learn.

 

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Molly on bike during Ironman Canada

 

B) Molly (my wife) wanted to do another Ironman. She had done one about 5 years ago, but very narrowly avoided DNF and was a wreck for much of it and for a while after. She was a second test subject to design/adjust training for, and since we had a similar goal this also meant we could do more adventures (err… training) together.

 

The social side of the goal and the fact we were stacking some learning/coaching with some social/relationship time made this big-crazy-Ironman goal make sense. We were able to go to the pool together and take over a lane, do a lot of running/walking together, some strength and a little bit of riding. This is not to mention the comfort of traveling to and navigating the hectic race-week environment and logistics!

 

Most importantly I was able to run and swim with a few friends in preparation and we have made a big summer trip out of MTB Nationals, the Ironman and a CX clinic in Virginia that we have been planning and looking forward to for many months. This is a big part of why goals and goal-setting with consideration on the process are important!

 

 peter aero (2)
C) To Refine my aero position and look into tri/TT possibility and also understand demands for clients doing either discipline. Aero is becoming big in many disciplines, including mtb-xc, so why not force me to learn more. If a 2nd go at Leadville is in the cards–I am not saying it is–this will be very important as well.

 

** BIG thanks to Trek Toronto for helping get me on a very fast SpeedConcept for the event, I am going to have a post on all the gear I used in the coming days (will link here)**

 

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Getting my position assessed and working on aero with Scott Kelly / Dundas Speedshop

 

D) Coaching I like to know what athletes are going through. I can’t know every event but I pride myself on the range of movements I know well and this helps me build better training for clients. With more clients coming to Smart Athlete from the Tri-world to develop their bike/run I wanted to immerse myself in the training, literature, tools, tactics and race environment.

 

Through the Consummate Athlete Podcast, we had several guests provide really great information about doing your first Triathlon, going faster in one of the sports or learning the sports. Carolyn Gaynor talked about guiding visually impaired cyclists through Ironman, Rich Pady walked me through each sport and transitions, Terry From Total Immersion talked about learning to swim for beginners and

 

   Check all the episodes that mention Ironman HERE

Being able to chat with new coaches I wouldn’t usually chat with (i.e. swimming or tri specific) was a great experience. There are always concepts, technologies and, well, awesome people, in areas outside our usual. Pushing our boundaries in sport and being open to learning is awesome if you think about it this way.

 

tribike pumptrack
Specific Ironman Bike training in Bromont, QC

 

So that is the story. I did it, I am done with triathlon but the year of adventures, skill acquisition, reading, new contacts/friends and training methods I can carry forward into new adventures, challenges and projects made this Big-Crazy goal well worth the investment and discomfort. Hopefully, this post will help you choose a great-big-crazy-goal this coming year.

 

So what is your next Big Crazy goal (and what are the benefits of completion and the process)? 

Feel free to tell me about it here, if you have questions or doubts. With some planning, many wild goals become much more accessible than you may think!