Training: Target practice

By Jerry White | Monday, February 11, 2008 12.00am

Now is the perfect time to focus your attention on the year ahead. Take a personal MOT to assess your capabilities and the priorities you need to set yourself over the coming months to make 2008 the best year yet on the bike.

Star qualities

Take a few minutes to write a list of the key qualities you believe elite cyclists have in your type of riding, whether it is a physiological quality such as 'pushing big gears' for the time trial rider, a psychological quality such as 'having no fear' for a downhill mountain biker, or a tactical quality such as 'reading the breaks' for a road racer. Everyone has slightly different opinions on the key qualities. Don't look for textbook answers, use your intuition and your own labels for each quality, because it is really important that you feel personally connected to the list. Keep going until you have over 10 qualities (try to summarise a few if you're still going at 25…).

Vital statistics

Score each of the qualities on your rating of their importance to performing brilliantly in your chosen discipline. If the quality is vital, give it a score of 10; if it is not important at all, give it a 1. Most qualities fall somewhere in between. For instance, a road racer who thought 'dancing up the hills' was a key quality for most races he was involved in might give it a score of 8.

 Performance rating

Ask yourself how good you are at each of these qualities. If you are as good as you could possibly be, give yourself a 10, if you couldn't be any worse, score a 1. Try to be realistic and objective.

Do your sums

Subtract your performance rating score from 10, then multiply that number by the importance score to give you a total score for each quality. The higher the total score, the poorer you rate yourself on a relatively important quality, and the greater the need for you to make that quality the focus of the next few months' training. The 'Making the MOT useful' panel below gives you some thoughts on how to make the most of the results.

Making the MOT useful

  • Rank the qualities by their total score.
  • Select the highest scoring four qualities.
  • For each, give yourself two speci?c actions you will take over the next three months to improve your score on that quality. Be speci?c – 'ride more miles' is no good; set a speci?c number of miles for each week for the next 12.
  • For each quality, set yourself a target 'how good am I' score for one month's time, and three months' time.
  • Recalculate the MOT every month and review your progress against the speci?cactions you said you would complete, and the target scores.

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