New Year's Resolutions for Competitive Cyclists
By Robert Annis
When the clock struck midnight December 31 the start of the resolution season officially began. For cyclists who’ve taken the holiday season off, it’s time to start getting ready for this year's racing season.
New Mexico-based coach John Verheul believes racing-related resolutions can be beneficial, as long as they're realistic, process – (rather than result-) oriented, and they contribute to athlete's ultimate goals.
“Resolutions should be specific to historic limiters,” Verheul said. “If an athlete underrecovers due to poor sleep, ‘in bed by 10 on weeknights’ is a good resolution. Make and eat a healthy breakfast every day, follow the training plan my coach wrote, or hire a coach, are also good resolutions.
“I had an athlete one year resolve to lose 10 pounds, and he wound up losing 15,” Verheul continued. “It took his power-to-weight ratio from average Cat 3 to good Cat 2. He was 50 and won several masters state championships that season on nearly identical training as the prior season.”
And while winning a state championship or placing in the top 10 in half of your races are good dreams, they don’t make for worthwhile goals because you have little to no control over them.
But as most of us know, a resolution to eat a healthy breakfast every day can be quickly forgotten as soon as you see your significant other’s pile of French toast. How can you stick with your goal?
Willpower is key, of course, but you can aid your self-control by leaving yourself little reminders. If you resolve not to make stupid attacks during a race, a note on your bars reading: "Is it really a good time to attack?" might help.
“My experience is that the reminder will be very short term, once you internalize the new pattern of behavior,” Verheul said. “It's just making the initial break in the old pattern and finding a way to consistently replace it with the desired behavior.”
Setting up accountability is another way to do that. If your goal is getting up and getting out to train by 6 a.m. every day, join a teammate or training partner with a similar plan. Challenge each other to not miss a workout and maybe set up a bet – first one to bail on a ride buys beer for the next week.
If your goal is to lose 10 pounds before your first crit, Facebook peer pressure might also help. Inform your friends on your social media networks of your plans, then post regular updates. Just be ready for some good-natured ridicule for your 1 a.m. Foursquare check-in at In-and-Out Burger.
If you happen to slip a bit – French toast is pretty tasty and 6 a.m. is pretty early, after all – don’t dwell on it. Just focus on doing better the next day.