jason siegle challenge

Shifting Goals: How This Coach Reinvigorated His Training

 

By Jason Siegle,
CTS Senior Coach

Cycling can be a lifelong sport because an athlete’s goals and level of participation can change over time. I spent years dedicated to high-level racing, but my passion for competition has waned in recent seasons. At the end of August, I was in a weird place with my riding. I didn’t have a specific goal or a target event and was basically just going through the motions. I’ve talked to a lot of cyclists facing similar circumstances, so here’s what I did to get my training back on track.

Setting a New Goal Type

I sat down and decided to come up with an actual goal to help me finish out the year. This is what I came up with: ride at least 15 miles every day until the end of the year. I added the caveat of challenging myself to make a daily video that I’d post to social media (primarily Instagram: @jasonsiegle). And, I committed to increasing my daily mileage as my social media audience increased. I’m currently adding one daily mile for every 100 new followers and I’m up to 28 miles a day. 

Here’s the post that started it all:

 

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A post shared by Jason Siegle (@jasonsiegle)

The new goal has become a compelling challenge and an interesting experiment to see if I can grow my personal brand on social media. The challenge – both the riding and video parts – added some much needed accountability that has kept me honest. I’ve also learned a ton about making video content for social media and now have a better understanding of what is needed to be successful. 

As of this writing I am about 75 days in, out of the 121 days it will take to complete the challenge, and I feel like I’m just now really starting to find my way. I’ve gone from 1600ish followers to about 3300. It’s been a fun process learning to create videos. I’ve really enjoyed the creative aspects and learning to use video editing software. I now have a whole new appreciation for video editors! What you see usually takes much longer to produce than you would initially imagine. 

 

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A post shared by Jason Siegle (@jasonsiegle)

My Takeaways from Riding Every Day

There are two main takeaways from these past 10 weeks that I want to talk about: goal setting and whether riding every day is a good idea for training. Let’s start with goal setting. As a coach, helping athletes set good goals can be challenging. It’s easy if there is a singular event they are training for. However, when goal events are far enough in the future, athletes lose focus because they feel they have so much time to get the work done. To avoid this, we try to create a progression of goals to keep the athlete engaged and getting after it.

In this respect, my new goal has reinforced the importance of connecting today (every day) to the accomplishment of the end goal.In general, I’ve found having daily accountability to be a huge asset. In my case this is pretty easy. If I skip a day, I’ve failed. 

Start with SMART

My goal fits within the well-known SMART goal setting framework. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound goal setting. It is a good place to start when you are creating competitive or non-competitive goals. As an example here’s I can use my goal to illustrate the process:


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Specific: What steps need to be taken? What needs to be accomplished? Who’s responsible for it? For my goal, I need to ride a minimum of 15 miles per day (plus the added miles based on new followers) and create a daily video for social media. However, I left myself some flexibility by not specifying the type of ride or type of bike. So, I can ride road, gravel, MTB, or even indoors if I need to.

Measurable: How do you know you’re making progress? I chose daily miles as the measurable component. I could have used time instead, and measuring by time vs. distance makes a big difference when you compare different modes of exercise. What I did not do is set a measurement goal around intensity, as I’ll talk about later.

Achievable: An appropriate goal should be challenging but achievable. That’s the reason I set the mileage at 15 miles/day even though I’m capable of riding much farther. The mileage adds up over time, and I must be cognizant of the daily time requirement.

Relevant: I had to make sure the goal was personally valuable to me, or it would be too easy to skip a ride on a day that was inconvenient. 

Time-Bound: I set my goal to finish by the end of the year, rather than leave it open ended. This provides motivation to stick with it, but with a cumulative goal like riding every day it also gives me a finish line so I’m not committing to do this indefinitely.

Event Goals vs. Challenge Goals

A couple of important things to realize about goal setting. Goals are allowed to change over time. You can have event goals during one period of time and fitness/challenge goals during others. A major difference between these types is what they do for your fitness. To accomplish event goals, your training must gradually build to address the demands of the event. For challenge goals, the physical and mental demands may be just sustaining the training itself. Because I’m working on a challenge goal, let’s talk about what riding every day does to your training.

Challenge Goal: Training Every Day

Is riding everyday a good way to train? In most cases I’d argue that isn’t. So, you might ask, why did I choose a goal that isn’t good training? Well, I wanted to get back to having a base level of consistency with my riding again. I also knew I’d need to be very punctual on some days to get everything done. That level of scheduling and planning usually transcends into everything else I do and I really like that. Overall, I find I get more efficient in everything I do when at least one aspect of my life is truly organized. I think this holds true for most people. 

The biggest challenge with having to ride at least 15 miles a day is still having days that are easier or in training terms, for recovery. In a normal training schedule we have an ebb and flow of easy and hard workouts that work together in harmony. That’s where my goal starts to not be a great way to train. I’ve had weeks where I could do intervals and everything was great. I’ve also had weeks where I was just too fatigued to do anything specific because of all the riding, so I just had to focus on getting the miles in to continue to complete my goal. 

Recommendations for improving fitness

If you were to try something similar to what I’m doing but want to improve fitness, I’d recommend setting a goal that allows for more variability in ride length. You will need some rides that are shorter and less intense than the other days. You will also need high intensity interval days(2x a week is best). It is important to have this polarity so you have the strength and freshness required to do higher the intensity work. If you don’t, you’ll have all of your riding start to trend toward looking very similar to every other day. Each ride will be hard enough to make you tired but not hard enough to move your fitness forward and you will just be carrying around a bunch of fatigue without any real benefits. 

In the end, I’d recommend to most athletes to choose a different pathway that allowed at least one day off a week if improvement was the main goal. If your goal isn’t just about improvement but is targeting getting consistency back, creating good habits again, or some other aim (like in my case trying to build my personal brand via social media) then everyday challenges for a period of time may make sense.

But has my fitness improved anyway?

Finally, let’s answer the fitness question. Have I improved my fitness since I started this thing back on September 1st? The short answer is yes, but that is mostly from just riding a lot more than I was before I started this challenge. Could I be fitter right now if I wasn’t doing things this way. Again, yes I could. The reality is though that as things are currently constructed I’m showing up daily and getting after it and I’m enjoying the process as well. 

I’m riding consistently again, having fun and finding other things to focus on other than just the fitness part. I’m riding a lot more technically challenging trails and searching out trail features to improve my skills. That’s been rewarding and fun. Training can take on many different forms and you need to figure out what best matches your current goals and motivations. I’ve been a racer in the past and chased maximizing fitness gains. Currently I’m in a different place where I still want to be fit but my motivations are different. Both of those roads are ok and as coach I know it is possible to make a plan that fits either of these pathways.  

I’d like to say one last thing, the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this challenge so far is this: Set a goal and start. Show up each day and remember that you have to complete today in order to start tomorrow. The act of starting is the hardest part. If you can get past that hurdle so much is possible. Usually, we aren’t very good at predicting where things are going to take us. To find out you have to keep showing up.


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Comments 2

  1. Loved reading this article. I have had health issues. AAA open repair, heart attack and recent Rheumatoid arthritis. Can’t ride outdoors much anymore unless the weather or RA cooperate. Thus indoor rides. I used to go pretty hard on my own 4 days a week two day’s intervals or hard rides and two day’s endurance rides. All out doors.
    Now indoor mostly and I find going hard less rewarding while riding indoors. And have always competed against myself. But I love riding.
    I truly enjoyed your twist on motivating to unique set of goals. Kudos
    Ptb

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