Spring Planning for Cycling Success

It's important to write down your goals--not only to facilitate your training, but to keep you focused on what you want to achieve.

Some of you may already be racing, but have you made a clear, decisive plan for the upcoming year? While the best time to plan and set goals is the offseason, an early spring planning session can yield significant results ahead.

For those riders who have started a plan or even finished it, the first spring races and fast group rides can provide a good benchmark to reassess our goals for the season.

The following are some basic periodizing and goal-setting strategies that will help you achieve the objectives you've set.

Have Goals, Will Succeed

The key to success is setting goals. Setting goals can be a learning process, but the main objective is to set a range of specific goals. Some of these may be relatively easy to achieve, others more difficult and maybe a few are dream goals; write them down! Let's consider the goals of a 34-year-old new racer:

  • Short-term: Lose 5 lbs, improve lactate threshold power 5 percent, get bike position set-up checked.
  • Intermediate: Lose 10 lbs, Top 15 Podunkville crit, Top 10 Jumpin Jack Road Race.
  • Season: Win Wicked Hilly Road Race, Top 15 overall & Stage of Big Bad Stage Race, 6-hour Climb to the Clouds Century, finish PanMass Challenge.
  • Long-term: Win Wicked Hilly Road Race, Qualify for RAAM.

Reality Bites, but Prevails

No matter how grand the goal or how inexperienced the athlete, everyone needs a realistic approach to achieving those goals; perhaps a goal will take more time to achieve than one season, a good plan will help get you there.

When coaches talk planning, they refer to periodization—the systematic variation of training over short and long periods of time in order to achieve a greater increase in performance.

Periodizing your season is akin to planning a long trip; ultimately, you'll get to your destination with fewer problems if you plan ahead for traffic, hotels and even site-seeing trips. Like your travel plans, however, periodization plans will need to be changed occasionally to account for unexpected problems, like illness or injury.

Planning Your Success

Planning a full season can be difficult and time consuming, but it brings your goals into focus, allowing you to avoid potential pitfalls and schedule much needed rest breaks.

The first step begins with rating your past season and yourself as a rider, then filling in those goals you set before finally filling in the remaining details. Hence, the term periodization refers to the organizing, arranging and assigning the timing and duration of training, testing and other important details for each season based on an athlete's goals.

Here's how to get started:

Step 1: Evaluate your season regarding which goals were met and which weren't, what went wrong last season (e.g., injuries/illness, or school/family distractions), how well your training worked and why; grade yourself A to F.

Step 2: Evaluate yourself as an athlete, noting your strengths and weaknesses, both physically and mentally; don't be afraid to ask others what they think. You can also use this time to do some performance testing, either with a qualified physiologist or physician, or by using a power meter.

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