Friday, September 10, 2010

Goals and Mountain Biking: A How-To

Riding 50-100 Miles on a Singlespeed
In "Success and the Goal Setter," Bettie B. Youngs tells us, "Goals represent expectations, hopes and dreams, and to the extent our goals are achieved, we are successful."

Setting goals is a great way to push yourself to new and greater heights. This definitely holds true in mountain biking as well as other areas of life.

Without specific, concrete goals in place, where do we get the motivation or the drive to turn ourselves into better riders? Without an objective in place, it is easy to settle for the same-old-same-old and completely stagnate.  Even if you're a great rider, if you don't continue to push yourself to new levels, backsliding into mediocrity is a very real possibility.  Goals and dreams give us the motivation that we need to strive for greater things!

How To Set Goals

When you're setting a goal, it is imperative that the goal which you set is attainable Setting an unrealistic goal is only setting yourself up for disappointment, failure, and possibly worse (quitting the sport). For instance, I know that I will never be in the type of beastly aerobic shape that it takes to win the Leadville 100. If I tried to achieve that goal, I would be utterly disappointed. A reasonable goal, on the other hand, might be to enter and complete the Leadville 100.

Whatever goal that you set, it should also be a challenge. It should require enough work and effort or be far enough above your current ability level as to cast some doubt on your actually achieving it. If I were to set a goal that I knew for a fact that I could achieve, such as riding 200 miles on my mountain bike in one year, I might feel satisfied once I had reached that level and would end up underachieving. The goal must be a challenge.

For some people, it may be setting a goal of beating X number of people in a certain race, or winning said race. I naturally have a very competitive personality, and can see the allure of setting such goals. However, I think that setting goals which show how much you have bettered your own abilities are much more satisfying in the long run. As Bettie B. Youngs said in the quotation at the beginning of the post, "to the extent our goals are achieved, we are successful." I personally find it very satisfying to set goals that I know I can achieve, given enough effort and time on my part. If you measure your success based off of someone else's standard, there is a good possibility that you will never measure up. If we continue with our current line of reasoning, that would make you or I a failure.

So set a goal that is attainable but still a challenge, and preferably one that measures your success against your past performance and not someone else's! Now once you have set your goal, get out there and achieve it!

Part 2: Modifying Your Goals.

Your turn: What other criteria do you think about when you set a goal for yourself? I've only scratched the surface of this topic: I'd love to hear your thoughts on it below!

4 comments:

scott,  September 10, 2010 at 9:05 PM  

My goal this year is to ride as much as I can. There are road blocks in front of my goal however. Between many things that take up my time, like that thing called work. Weather can also be a factor living in Wisconsin. Winter riding has found it's way into my routine of last season. I keep track and mark each day on my calendar that I ride. So far to date I at 25 times. I still have a lot of the year left to pad the stat, but the Packer season started. So I will have to get my riding in before kick off. Next year's goal is to top this year.

Greg September 10, 2010 at 9:45 PM  

Nice man, I like it! Trying to work to better yourself.

Def. like the statistics tracking... I'm totally a statistics geek, especially when they're MTB statistics!

Daniel September 11, 2010 at 1:14 AM  

Nice write up. Goals have a very different effect to different people and personalities. I am more of a broad goal setter than specific things or numbers. One exception to that is mileage, I got a Cat Eye odometer on my first MTB and have had one on every bike since. My first year I think I had 600 miles for about 9 months, I remember being pretty jazzed about that. So at Jan 1 I reset the odometer and set a goal of at least 1000 miles in a year- I got about 1200 that year. The ‘at least’ part was important so I didn’t in any way feel obligated to slow down my riding once I reached 1000. Goals are like checkpoints, not destinations. Last year I had over 2500 miles, but had never really set my goal any higher than 1000- Life happens, last year I was unemployed and had plenty of riding time- next year may be totally different but as long as I can get that 1000 Im doing ok.

Greg September 11, 2010 at 1:50 PM  

Interesting thoughts, Dan. 2,500 miles is a ton! What an epic year!

The number of miles on the bike is a big one for me as well. I had set a specific goal for this year, but i don't think I'm going to make it (more on that Monday).

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com. He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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