According to University College London it takes an average of 66 days to change human behaviour. As the 66th day of the year passed by last week, if you’d made new year resolutions or set goals to improve your riding and are still sticking to them now
1. You’re going to be way better than you were at the start of the year
2. You’ve done the hard work and you’re much more likely to keep going with them.
If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’ll have stopped adhering to your resolutions/goals though, and there is a good chance that this was because your goals weren’t focused enough.
A frequent problem with setting goals is that people don’t know how to set them or don’t really care about setting them. While we can undoubtedly improve without goals, the focus that goals bring can provide us with exponential gains in our abilities.
Remember – a 10 watt bulb can barely light a room but a 10 watt laser can split steel…..the difference?…..focus
We can’t optimally train for more than one thing at a time so goals assist you in, for example, clearly defining your strength work from your skills work from your endurance work.
To set high quality goals the most widely accepted model utilises the SMART acronym. There are a few variations on this but the ones I find more useful are below:
S – Specific, Significant
M- Measurable, Meaningful, Motivational
A – Action-orientated, Achievable
R – Realistic, Relevant, Result-orientated
T – Time and resource constrained, Tangible, Trackable
It’s important to make sure that your goals fit with your overall objective and it’s for this reason some people extend the acronym to SMARTY:
Y – Why are you setting the goal?
If your goal is to improve your jumping, going on a 20km ride where you maybe come across 2 jumps during the ride is unlikely to pay dividends. Likewise, if you’ve got an XC race coming up in 6 weeks, interrupting your program to practice jumps is unlikely to benefit you in the race.
So what do the pros say about it?
Below are two clips, one from Steve Peat and one from Danny Hart and their respective trainers. If you forward to 2.25 secs in the ‘This is Peaty’ episode, you’ll hear Steve and coach Adella Carter talking about how he sets goals each season and targets his training to specific races.
In the Danny Hart clip you’ll mostly hear from his fitness coach Andy Wadsworth but the message is the same – focusing intently on specific goals to achieve specific outcomes.
Intensity of action is what makes the difference in improving human performance and goals help us achieve the required level of intensity. If you want to improve your riding ability as quick as you can then setting focused goals is the first step to achieving it.
If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.