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Need It: Motivation and Goal Setting

by Adrian Hegyvary

Do you know your primary goal for cycling in the next 3 years? Do you consciously know the dreams that fuel your cycling addiction? I have worked with 100’s of riders of all shapes and sizes over the last 7 years as a full time coach, and while many of them know what fuels their ambitions whether it was beating a certain benchmark or turning their lives around through dedication to a healthy discipline, some of them weren’t conscious of their choices. Watching Lance and company this year might give you the feeling that there is more to rocking the world than just rolling over after surviving cancer and deciding to get healthy again…and that the goals you consciously and subconsciously adopt are perhaps the most important element in achieving your cycling dreams.

Right now you are probably thinking “I know why I ride, I like to eat pasta and drink wine!” or it might be “it keeps me healthy”. And those are fine goals. But those are goals with mediocre levels of energy and emotion to them. You might also like to sit around in your pajama’s watching cycling on TV and eating ice cream (like I do) and that might be just about as compelling! However if you think about how the 2 hr ride you have planned will: lower your blood pressure, relieve stress from work, make you a better partner or parent, help you lose a few pounds and enhance your self image, boost your energy level at work to make more of a contribution, or give you the opportunity to think of the next breakthrough in your field…then you are on to something. And if you think about how each of these “little” benefits might lead to you making a larger positive change or attracting a substantially better life and you actually get excited about it ?! Then you are really on the verge of making your goals not only clear, but energizing and motivational as well.

For instance, a number of professional cyclists in the last few years have pulled off very compeling victories fueled by intense emotional stress. Alexandre Vinokourov’s win at the 2003 Paris-Nice came after vowing to take the victory in honor of his friend and countryman Andrei Kivilev who died in a freak accident on the second stage. Similar cases, including Lance Armstrong’s stage win at the 1995 Tour de France following his teammate Fabio Casartelli’s death, Chris Wherry’s victory at the 2002 Saturn Classic three days after his father’s death, and even Tyler Hamilton wearing his beloved dog’s ID tags while winning the Gold Medal at the 2004 Olympics in the TT, all exemplify the role motivation and purpose can play in boosting an athlete’s performance. And then there is Lance’s incredible feat, only a man thinking about all the kids in hospital beds, and the importance of his riding to others could achieve what he has done.

Thankfully, the same mental strategies these cyclists used to turn emotional stress into physical strength can be adopted without suffering personal tragedy. Knowing how to tap into your mental reserves through positive mental exercises like goal setting can help you both in your training and on the day of your peak event. The first step in this process is to take a step back and evaluate yourself in the broadest possible terms, for now limited to cycling: what is your ultimate cycling dream? It could be winning a certain big race, completing a big ride, even beating a certain person or riding a certain bike. Forget about the how, the when, and the why for now.

Now take a step back and think about what dreams you have for five years out. Again, think big and don’t worry about logistics. Now think about where you want to be in 3 years… in one year… by the end of this season…and now think about what it would do for you to achieve these things…what would it give you. Feel it, imagine it, believe it.

I have found that the more intense you are connected to the outcomes you choose to focus on, and the benefits they will give you and those around you, the more likely you are of making them happen. Cycle University puts on goal setting classes in the Spring and Fall, look for our next Goal setting session in October. It might be the best 2 hours you will spend on yourself this year.