No matter what type of sporting discipline you participate in, it is always important to review your season once you have stopped racing.
For those of you who read my beginners’ guide to racing earlier this year, you may remember that I talked about the importance of having goals to aim for during the season (and also beyond), in order to achieve what you want to achieve – it is incredibly difficult to feel satisfied and contented if you don’t know what you want out of the season.
So for those of you who set goals this season, whether those were distance related, time related, or just getting on your bike more, it is important to revisit the aims that you set yourself at the beginning of the season and to compare them to what you did actually achieve.
Original Goals – Realistic or Unattainable?
At the start of the season, you would have had an idea, whether you wrote it down or not, as to what you wanted to achieve. Nobody can tell what the future holds and nobody can tell you that you can’t achieve what you want to achieve, as everybody has to have a dream, but it is important to be true to yourself. This means that you have to be honest with yourself too. For example, there is nothing wrong with wanting to win a Premier Calendar or a National Series event this season, but if you only started racing this season and were a fourth category rider at the start of the season, the likelihood is that you will struggle to get a ride in a National Series event, and if you are a male fourth category rider, then you can’t even enter a Premier Calendar. Don’t get me wrong, being honest with yourself is not easy – everybody wants to feel that they are better than they are, it’s only natural, but you have to have a reality check at some point, if only for your own sanity. Otherwise you will spend your spare time dwelling on the fact that you have failed in your mission, wondering where you went wrong and basically mentally beating yourself up.
If you achieved your targets, congratulations! And, if so, the next port of call for you is to ask yourself how you can build on what you have achieved this season, and whether you feel that you pushed yourself in achieving those goals, so that you set some more SMART goals for next season.
Missing Targets Is Not The End of the World
Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes you get ill. For the majority of people (and that will include most readers of this article), cycling (or any sport in actual fact) is a hobby that you do in your spare time. It is important that you remember that fact. Cycling is fun, a way of keeping healthy and fit and making friends. Even if you are competing, you still should always remember that you are doing it because you enjoy it, not because your life depends on it. And if you feel that it is the latter, and your whole sense of being in life is dependent on the results you get, then you need to have a word with yourself, my friend, because getting depressed about what you haven’t achieved is not healthy. And if your “team mates” are not supportive enough, you do not have to stay with that team or club. Your mental well-being is paramount – without that basis you cannot prepare yourself mentally for the challenges that life throws at you.
Evaluating the Season
If you haven’t achieved what you thought were reasonable goals, ask yourself why that might be. Maybe you have had a stressful time at work, or a member of your family has been ill, or you just haven’t had the spare time to dedicate to training. Some things are out of our control and as an adult you just have to accept that fact and move on. Instead, look at what you have achieved this season in spite of all the other issues you have had to deal with and take those achievements as a positive. Don’t beat yourself up about not getting the results that you thought you were capable of, but use them as a stepping stone for what you want to achieve next season. Don’t underestimate the British weather either – if you wanted to go under the hour on a 25 mile time trial but every single time you rode an event it was horrendously windy, that is something out of your control, so just deal with it and move on.
If you have missed some of your targets this season, do yourself a favour and list the goals that you wanted to achieve at the beginning of the season in one column, then in a second column list how you did in reality – you will probably find that you were not too far wide of the target, and if there were things that appear to be out of reach, think about why that might be and how you might be able to change things to achieve those goals next season. If you use a training diary, or an on-line tool such as Garmin Connect or Strava, have a look back at all of that data you will have created and try and evaluate it to see whether you might have done too much leading up to the event where you didn’t hit the target, or you might have not done enough.
In the grand scheme of things, life is incredibly short. This isn’t a dress rehearsal and you have to take the best out of the challenges that life throws at you. Be honest with yourself, think about what you could have done to make things better and then you can start thinking about what you might want to achieve next season!
So until next time, enjoy riding and keep safe!