In my last post, I summarized my training philosophy in three points: setting meaningful goals, focusing on key workouts, and having fun. In this post, I’ll develop the concept of setting meaningful goals.

I’ve been racing for about 15 years. I’ve done mountain bike races, cyclocross races, road races, criteriums, and time trials. I even did one duathlon just to remind myself how much better riding is than running. That variety is one of great aspects of our sport. It has allowed me to set and achieve a number of meaningful and challenging goals.

We all know that goal-setting is important. What I think gets overlooked, though, is the importance of setting meaningful goals. A meaningful goal is one that, if accomplished, is worth more than the sacrifice required to accomplish it. Too many people have pursued competitive success at the expense of more valuable things like relationships, careers, financial wellbeing, and their health. Don’t let cycling take any of those things away from you.

Here’s an example from my own experience. One of the most challenging goals I’ve ever set for myself was a top performance in the time trial at last year’s Masters National Championships. Before I decided to make it a goal, I calculated the cost of the equipment I would need, the travel expense, and the time investment. More importantly, I discussed the idea with my wife. I ended up taking third and was extremely satisfied with my result. It was well worth the sacrifice. Of course, if I had bought more expensive equipment, trained longer, and spent more time away from my wife, I might have done better. But the satisfaction would have been less. I would have given up more than I’d gotten in return.

Another key to setting meaningful goals is variety. Every time we achieve a goal, we expect to be able to do it again. For some people, the repeated accomplishment of a goal is satisfying every time. For me, though, the goal becomes more of a burden than a challenge, and the accomplishment becomes more of a relief than a reward. That’s why I try to start every season with a fresh set of goals. Some may be repeated from the previous season, but only if I still have the motivation to give them another run. This year, I’ll target Masters Nats again, but I’m adding the Midwest Cycling Series, a top-100 finish at Chequamegon, and possibly the state cyclocross championships. I’m looking forward to a more balanced mix of road and off-road events.

Well, that’s enough said about meaningful goals. My official training program begins next week, so I’ll tackle the subject of key workouts in an upcoming post.