on goals…

now that the new year has passed us (and something called “quitters day,” enlighten me please if you can) i want to talk about goals. first what i think about goals and then a short interview with my friend mat, who just completed an AWESOME goal this january.

why do people fail to make their goals?
we fail to make goals when we think of “goal” as simply a noun, rather than a process. clinical behavioural psychologist jordan peterson has a great lecture on “smart goals.” check it out if you have time, or just read what i’ve taken away from this great researcher & how it applies to cycling. also, the second part of this article will be a short interview with mat.

establish achievable goals
don’t pick a goal you know you’re not going to do. this might sound obvious, but if you don’t really enjoy running, are you likely to train hard to run a marathon? i know i’m not. running is for squirrels. for example, if you usually cycle 25 miles in a week, don’t set the goal of cycling 100 miles in a week. it’s possible that setting a goal too high will be so discouraging that you give up. yes, challenge yourself. the goal shouldn’t be *easy* but don’t set yourself up for failure either. and keep in mind, it’s never against the rules to overachieve or move the bar higher for yourself throughout the goal making process.

incrementalism / breaking the goal into parts
stop looking at one goal as the end. the journey’s the destination! you want to compete in an ultra race, but you only ride 25 miles a week? this month, make the goal of cycling 50 miles each week. then next month, 75 miles each week. incremental gains are unstoppable. with a reasonable time frame (6 months, maybe) you could be comfortable doing several hundred miles a week and shift your focus to the next part of your ultra goal.

celebrate, or enjoy every sandwich
these incremental goals are mini-achievements. treat them as such. take time to celebrate your win before moving on to the next goal.

goals are physical as well as psychological
your brain and your body are constantly at war with each other. most days my brain says it doesn’t want to do my workout. guess what, brain, you’re being unreasonable. it’s cold outside. it’s warm in my house. nope- that’s no excuse. you can suffer the cold for a one hour workout. what’s one hour. you can live through ANYTHING for one hour.

track, track, track
keep a journal. i find the training peaks application really helpful for this. it’s a nice simple calendar layout that shows me green when i’ve met a goal and red when i haven’t. strava can help with accountability too. there’s nothing like a little peer pressure when you’re skipping a training day!

oh shit, i’m a slacker!! just kidding, i’ve been out of town for a few days and haven’t uploaded my data. i might not be able to overachieve if i’m on the road, but i ALWAYS make time for at least my one hour workout because i find the red squares on my calendar emotionally disturbing.

compare yourself to yourself
jordan tells a funny story in the above video about a guy who’s upset that he’s not doing as well as his old roommate. well, the guy’s roommate was elon musk. no shit, sherlock! everyone is on a different path, so if you must compare yourself to others, choose carefully. racing is helpful for this and is an integral part of my training schedule because i’m competing with other riders in my category, a safe peer group for comparison. keep in mind, even if you have a good comparison group, YOU are the control group for your goal setting.

and now an interview with mat
mat made the january goal to ride at least 10 miles every day in the month of january. 10 miles might not sound like a lot, but combine work schedule with low daylight hours and the miserable weather in ohio this time of year and you have what i think is a slow-slog sufferfest both physically and mentally. questions are bold. this interview was conducted over messenger.

mat, after the last ride of the january ride every day challenge. for the record, he perked up a little for after ride alcohol, cheese and bacon.

hi mat. first i want to say you are winning the team mandalore rule number 5 award for the month of january, our inaugural month, but you already know that. how does it feel to win a yet-undetermined prize from a person who occasionally threatens you?
Colossally underwhelming.

you chose to ride every day in january and set an unofficial goal of 10 miles minimum. what was your motivation?
I was annoyed about getting a bit fluffy around the middle in fall, and frustrated about being sick the entire week of Christmas and New Years causing me to miss participating in the “Festive 500” challenge. Knowing that January is normally a month that causes that mid section fluffiness to get worse, I wanted to do something about it.

did you have a favourite ride in the month of january?
It was definitely the (Jan 30th) gravel road ride around Holly Michigan with my Personal Trainer Oompa Loompa. It was not the ride we were expecting to do, but the potholed, muddy, gravel road turned out to be a lot of fun in the dark.

can you say anything about the value of tracking your rides through strava?
Umm…, it seems to add a bit of self accountability, especially being able to share with friends on social media who both encourage and heckled me through the month. Honestly if not for that I probably would have quit around the 20th.

how are you celebrating, now that you’ve survived your self-imposed tribulation?
Sitting on my ass by the fire and relaxing, planning to cook a nice dirty steak later.

what’s your next goal going to be?
I haven’t decided for sure, but possibly 500K in February. Which works out to a slightly higher daily average mileage, but with out the soul sucking “everydamndayness” of the January challenge which turned it into a pit of despair by months end.

A Note from Mat: 10 miles a day seemed easy at the start, and it really did get tough because of the every day part. For me 10 miles a day for a month was a big commitment because I’m not super fit and not an athlete by any means. For many cyclists 10 miles a day would be very, very easy. The surprising thing though was where the most vocal encouragement came from. From those cyclist I know who are in great shape, and would have found this to be very easy, they were the people who gave the most encouragement to see this through, and never once mocked this goal that would have been so easy for them.

a note from rae: teammates are family. i know the people mat is talking about and he’s right- they are some hardcore-tough rule number 5 obeying m-fers… but no matter how tough you are, you should ALWAYS take the time to hold up your fam. help your team keep their sticks on the ice. we’re all in this together.

you can follow mat’s adventures at the shenanigans cycling facebook or instagram page.

i’d like to publicly thank him for playing- he really did not want to do this interview. i love you, bruh, and i’d say i’m sorry for hassling you with this but we both know i’m not.