January is almost over (whaat?!) and I think that now the madness of ‘New Year New You’ has calmed down, it’s the perfect time to sit back and set those fitness goals, minus the giddy excitement of one two many glasses of fizz on NYE. By now I think we’re more likely to set realistic goals and here’s the kicker… actually stick to them.
This year for me I have a few specific fitness goals that I’m dedicated to achieving… One isn’t cycling based, but cycling IS still a big part of achieving that goal, and that is the Paris Marathon. My other big goal is to become an accredited track cyclist, which means I can then enter age group races. Track cycling is something I tried whilst at SUF camp in Switzerland and just totally fell in love with. To achieve that goal, I need to be really strong and be able to put out some big, prolonged efforts which means lots of training and lots of my favourite… climbing sessions! Another goal and one that will actually help me with both of the others is riding the Nove Colli, one of the first ever sportives! Every year we head to Italy for two weeks of triathlon training and the Nove Colli falls at the end of those two weeks, I’ve always chosen to do a long swim day instead of the ride but this year, I’ll be tackling those 9 hills. My gorgeous LIV Langma will be arriving any day now and I can’t wait to take her to Italia and let her dance up some of my favourite hills!
Firstly, when it comes to setting goals you need to make sure that they’re big enough to be worth it whilst still being realistic about where you’re currently at and also honest about the time and resources you have available.
Secondly, make sure they’re specific, vague goals such as ‘must get out on the bike more’ aren’t as measurable and therefore are easier to back out of, psychologically. Instead, try something like, I will ride x amount of miles every month. Then you know what your goal is and it’s easy to see how you’re doing at any given moment.
Once you’ve got your goals figured out, write them down and keep them somewhere that you can see them daily, the fridge or bathroom mirror works great. That daily reminder of what you’re working towards, can make all the difference.
To help keep myself on track, especially if the goal is one that might take me months or years to achieve, I like to set smaller stepping-stone type goals, for example – ride 3 x per week or, sign up to a couple of races to keep me motivated. I have the Cambridge half marathon in the lead up to Paris. These smaller goals will be different for everyone and if you’re unsure of what yours might be, let me know your big goal in the comments section and I’ll try to help you out with a few suggestions?
Taking it back another step, what you really want to be doing, is creating habits that you can stick with and that will not only help you reach your goals but also increase your health, happiness and mental wellbeing, providing a solid base and foundation that you can build upon each year. Rather than the standard and oh-so-familar, yo-yoing back and forth between fit and couch potato.
So, you’ve made your goals, you’ve started the process, now how do you make sure you stick to them and see them through to completion once that initial motivation has worn off?
Scheduling. If you don’t make time for it in your diary, if you don’t make it a priority, chances are, it won’t happen. Schedule it in and then prepare. If you know you need to get up early, have your kit laid out ready so that you can throw it on as you roll out of bed. (I know athletes that sleep in their swimsuit because they know they have 6am swim practice the next day!) Pre-prepare your breakfast the night before, basically, do anything you can to make sure that you can easily stick to your plan.
Accountability. Tell your friends and family about your goals, tell me, tell someone at work. The more people that know what you’re planning on doing, the more likely you are to actually do it. Did I mention the awesome social aspect of cycling? Getting to know others with similar goals can help push you further than you ever thought possible, all whilst having fun along the way!
Treat yourself! Seriously, maybe not everyday but go ahead and treat yourself to that new bit of kit that will make the journey easier and more enjoyable. You could even treat yourself to something completely unrelated, it’s totally up to you!
Finally, if you have a bad day, things don’t go to plan and you miss a session, whatever it is, don’t beat yourself up. It’s just a small blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things and remember – we are what we consistently do, not what we occasionally do. Take the day, enjoy the rest, and then tomorrow, get back on it.