Personal goals in the time of Covid
The uncertainty around travel and the cancellation of innumerable events has left many of us without our usual summer cycling goals. How to stay motivated when it’s not obvious what you are training for? Why would you devote so much time and energy preparing for something that probably won’t happen?
This is exactly the situation I find myself in. This year my main goal is the Tour du Mont Blanc, on July 17th. As I write this piece in mid-April, sadly all the usual early-season sportives have been cancelled, and it remains perfectly possible that the Tour du Mont Blanc itself will end up being cancelled in turn.
So how do I stay motivated?
There’s an important principle embedded in Stoic philosophy which I translate as accepting the world as it is and living in the moment. In other words, refuse to be held hostage by external forces, and seek fulfilment in things that are entirely under your own control. In the context we are considering here, this means to me letting go of the goal of riding the event and focusing on goals that only depend on me. The trick is, of course, to make these goals both interesting in themselves and also coherent with training for the event. I thus win both ways: either the event happens, in which case I’m ready for it; or it doesn’t, in which case I have the satisfaction of having met my training goals.
I have set out my main training goals below. Note that none of these goals make much sense in isolation. It is the combination that creates a coherent set of outcomes that should see me reasonably well prepared to ride the Tour du Mont Blanc.
From Jan 1st to March 31st:
- Cycle 3,500km and climb 50,000m+
- Train for >12h per week (average)
- Do at least one ride >6h
- Two strength & conditioning sessions and at least one mobility/flexibility session per week
- Reduce weight by 1kg per month
From Apr 1st to June 30th:
- Cycle 4,500km and climb 75,000m+
- Train for >15h per week (average)
- Do at least one ride >10h
- At least one strength & conditioning sessions and one mobility/flexibility session per week
- Reduce weight by 500g per month
Throughout the period:
- Use HRV monitoring and perception of fatigue to ensure adequate de-load and recovery
- Focus on nutrition to ensure I remain healthy throughout while fuelling my training, achieving my weight-loss goals and improving fat-burning at endurance pace.
We are now in mid-April so I can report the results of my Q1 goals:
So far so good! On top of these objective outcomes, I am also feeling strong and healthy. I’m pleased – and motivated – by the results so far. I am enjoying my riding and very rarely hesitate to get out there.
Out of interest, I did a 20min max power test on my local climb (the col de la Faucille) in early April. In spite of doing almost no HIT in the last 3 months, I equalled my best result to date, making it the fifth occasion that I have averaged 290W for 20 minutes. The elusive 300W is tantalisingly close! Tellingly, the effort was an all-time PR on the Strava segment for the first part of the climb, showing the benefits of having lost weight.
The adventure continues!