Process vs Outcome goals for races

The recent podcast discussion on goals was really good. I’ve always focussed way too much on outcome goals for races, because they’re probably more obvious, and then of course struggled because the competition is out of your control. I really like the idea of trying process goals around my races, but how do you manage, say, power targets, when usually you’d keep power as low as you can. Really just looking for thoughts here on how you’ve used process goals specifically for race performances.

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What kind of races are you targeting? IMO, power goals as process goals in crits and road races are not worth it…you are at the mercy of the group. You either make the split or you don’t….it doesn’t matter what your power goals are.


Could a process goal be around consistency in training?

I too am looking at process goals this year. I find that I always put too much pressure on myself for an outcome at an event and then fail at it and end up getting myself down.

Absolutely….can be as simple as “train 5x / week” or more specific “do 1 VO2 Max workout / week to work on weakness”.

But process goals for training are usually different than a prices goal for racing.

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I would lean towards 1-2 that are positioning, skills or tactics related. Too many goals will distract you.

  • If you’re not a ‘good’ climber, maybe pick one about positioning at the front before climbs so you can sag climb.
  • Not breaking in turns (the ol’ let a little gap open before the turn so you don’t need to break and then accelerate out.)
  • Hopping on the wheels of riders moving to the front on the outside for a free ride to the front.
  • Monitor position in pack and try to stay in the top x%
  • If you like to excessively follow attacks / moves, maybe have a goal about only going with an attack if person X is involved or if some number of big teams are represented.
  • If you’re part of a team and the team has a strategy for the race that kinda makes these process goals for you (re: chasing attacks, leadouts, etc.)

Another option is to look at tactical errors / skills problems / etc. that have negatively impacted your results or performance in the past and make goals related to improving those.

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This is a great one….you should never stick your nose in the wind unless it is strategically imperative to do so. If you need / want to get to the front, wait for someone else to come up the side and hop on their wheel. Try and avoid doing the effort on your own.

You’re getting at what I’m asking in the 2nd part of your comment. What happens with me is I apply process goals to my training and then for my racing I only have outcome goals. I appreciate the suggestions for racing process goals, but those are sort of the things I try to focus on already.

My ask (and maybe it’s unrealistic) was more to have some kind of targets (HR or power) that I could benchmark on that aren’t dependent on outside factors. I suppose that would work with Tri, but maybe it’s not possible with road racing. An example might be, there’s a tough 6 minute climb and you know the power you’d need to PR or get up with the leaders. You target that, and if you still get dropped, ok.

I think I’d look at that as part of my strategy for the race, not necessarily a process goal. “I know I have to stay under XXX watts so I don’t blow up. If I don’t blow, I may have a chance to catch back on” or something like that.

And yeah, it is a fine line between the two and could be argued they are the same thing I guess. I still look at it as “you do what you need to do to make the split…doesn’t matter what the power meter or NR monitor says”.

I think it is a bit unrealistic in road racing, as the power and associated HR required are completely at the mercy of your competition. Further - they are both really things that are already locked in by the time you pin on the number. That is to say - the power and HR you’re capable of are driven by the preceding weeks and months, not something you do on race day

I guess you could try to set yourself an upper limit on power for a climb…but I’d say that process goal could be more along the lines of being in the top 3 riders at the bottom of the climb and the last 3 riders at the top

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Unless you’re doing a TT, I think process goals during a race should be almost entirely mental.

If you’re someone who goes out too hard and blows up, perhaps the process goal is to mentally stay patient and suck more wheel and feel like you’re riding too easy for the first half of the race.

If you’re someone to underperforms at races relative to your fitness, maybe a process goal is constantly analyzing if you can go harder at any given moment. Can you apply more pressure on the pedals? Is it really gonna kill you to close that gap? Can you stay in the moment more and not worry about 2hrs from now and how much that will hurt?

If you’re someone who gets intimidated by the competition, maybe a process goal is to ride your race and every time to catch yourself thinking about what so and so is doing then recognize it and focus back on your effort/position/tactics.

Once you choose that process goal, then making it simple and repeating it over and over or anytime you recognize yourself drifting from it then trying to go back to that process goal. You don’t want 10 different ones, I think you want 1 or 3. Then at the end you an analyze how well you did in achieving that process goal by how well you stayed in that mindset throughout the race.

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That’s just a solid comment in general. When I’ve had good results, it REALLY hurt, and it’s easy to forget that and wonder why you don’t do so well other times. I’m often guilty of thinking too much about later in the race.

Road races and crits. Probably a couple of sportives this year too, where they’re race-y at the front.