Where did the season go? Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday we were building base for those early spring races? Now, as the leaves begin to fall and the hours of daylight shorten, it’s time to reflect upon 2014 and begin setting a plan of action for next year. The first step? Setting goals.

Setting challenging yet attainable goals is absolutely crucial for any athlete. All of your hard work and discipline needs to have a focus and a purpose in order for it to truly pay off. One of the biggest causes of burnout can be attributed to unclear or unobtainable goals. Here are some tips on setting goals for your season that will keep you motivated and focused:

1. Why do you ride/race?

Sounds like a simple question, right? However, this question is often overlooked when it comes to setting goals. Do you ride for fun? Do you ride for your health? Do you ride to turn professional and make a living off of pedaling your bike? Why you ride should be your biggest factor to consider while setting goals. If you’re riding for your health, start considering what exactly you want to improve about your health. If you ride to have fun, consider what aspects of riding/racing are the most fun to you. If you ride for strictly competitive reasons, your goals need to be focused upon performance and results. For many, why they ride is a combination of all three of these different subjects and therefore their goals should reflect that combination.

2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Look back on 2014. Where did you excel and where do you feel you could use some improvement? I’ll use myself as an example for this as a cross country mountain bike racer. My descending and my steady climbing at threshold were my strong points all season. However, my v02 efforts on things like the start or hard accelerations throughout the course seemed to be subpar. Knowing this, I will be focusing a lot on workouts like those in the mountain bike training plan to improve my power and duration above threshold later this winter, after having spent a good amount of time re-building my base. Learn more about mountain bike training in our guide.

3. What’s realistic?

This questions isn’t meant to be negative or pessimistic. I’m a firm believer that with the right amount of hard work and discipline, no athletic goal is unobtainable. However, hard work and discipline take time and sacrifice. Very few of us are able to dedicate our lives to cycling, so we need to be realistic about what is attainable with the amount of time and sacrifice we are willing to dedicate to reaching our goals. If you only have 4 hours per week to train, it’s going to be tough to make it into the Tour de France. However, it’s completely realistic to shave a few minutes off of your 40k TT time and make your way to the top of your local race series.

If you’d like some help choosing the best training plan for your goals, check out Coach Chad’s blog HERE.