Go Long and You'll Go Big

Training & Health

10/14/2008| 0 comments
by Jim Lehman

Go Long and You'll Go Big

Think about any of the successes you’ve had on the field, trail, or water. I’ll bet few, if any, of those moments of greatness occurred by chance. Rather you achieved them because you set a very specific goal and mapped out a specialized plan of steps to reach it.

Think about any of the successes you’ve had on the field, trail, or water. I’ll bet few, if any, of those moments of greatness occurred by chance. Rather you achieved them because you set a very specific goal and mapped out a specialized plan of steps to reach it.

This is pretty basic stuff, but often we don’t set our athletic goals far enough into the future. We think in terms of training for a few months, not in terms of several years. And that’s a shame. Because when you set goals that are a few years away, you’ll find yourself capable of extraordinary feats. For example, if you just started riding last month, it might not be reasonable for you to set the goal of doing a five-hour century (100 miles) this year—a six-hour ride is more realistic. But if you set your sights on ripping off a sub-five-hour 100-miler in 2008 and start using the next two years to train for it, you improve your chances of success dramatically. Move the goal to 2009 and, barring an injury or other dramatic turn of events, you may even be able to guarantee success.

This is exactly what elite athletes do in the early stages of their careers. Junior-level bike racers go to Europe not to win, but to expose their bodies to the much faster speeds and physical demands found in European races. They want to do well, but they’re not obsessed by results at age 18. They’re looking to build on this training and help them excel five years down the road. The same approach goes for marathon runners. It takes years for even a top athlete to develop his or her body to be able to sustain a world-class pace.

I used this long-term approach to goals when I was coaching the U.S. Paralympic cycling squad leading up to the 2004 Olympic Games. After the 2000 Games had ended in a not-so-hot showing for the U.S., the athletes, the other coaches on the team, and I sat down and identified one goal for the entire program: win the medal count in 2004. With everyone working toward this goal, we rode into the 2001 racing season and got crushed. But in 2002, we picked up a couple of medals in international competitions. Then in 2003, we started winning some races as the athletes gained more experience and developed. By 2004, our mission had paid off with world record performances and gold medals.

The amazing thing about these athletes was that they were people with 9-to-5 jobs just like you. But by working consistently over the course of four years and measuring their progress month-by-month, they became some of the world’s best. Follow the same path they did, and you too might find yourself capable of the extraordinary.

The Carmichael Training Systems’ Keys to Success

· Make your goal personal. It has to be your goal, not one given to you. If the goal comes from you, you’ll commit to achieving it.

· Keep the goal challenging, yet realistic. Riding a

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