2016 Goals: Coaching and Racing

Heading into November and the winter training season, it is important to look ahead to next season and set some goals for training and racing.  For me, as a professional coach it is also an opportunity to set some professional goals, for my personal development and education in particular.  Below I will share with you my thought process and my own personal and professional goals.  I am going through this process with all of my riders at the moment, and you should too.

Coaching Goals

I have learnt a lot over the last couple of years coaching mountain bikers, and an important part of my self development has been constant evaluation of my methods and coaching approach.  I regularly ask myself if a programme was effective.  How could it have been improved?  Does a certain exercise or training method work for that particular rider?  By doing this I have learnt a lot.  It also exposes areas that I need to work on as a coach.

In 2015 I spent a lot of time, money and effort on my self development, in particular interning with top strength and conditioning coach, Darren Roberts who looks after extreme sports athletes from Red Bull amongst others.  This taught me a lot about my coaching style and helped me to shape and develop my general, over arching approach to training my riders.  He also made me keep a coaching diary which has been a useful tool for my personal development and self awareness.

For this winter my education focus is on developing my bike programming further, particularly using power meters, and using the excellent coaching interface on the Training Peaks software and website.  Whilst I am familiar with training with power, through use of my Wattbike and have programmed successfully for many riders, I need to build a more in depth knowledge of the intricacies of training with a power meter.  To do this I am riding with a Stages Power meter on my roadie and getting properly into the weeds of what it is capable of, especially when paired with my Garmin Edge 520.  I also have a very experienced and knowledgeable rider who is going to help me and speed up the learning process.  Similarly, I have a guinea pig lined up who will be coached with his power meter over the coming months, allowing us to learn and make mistakes together.  The specific goal is to have the knowledge, experience and confidence to offer power-based coaching to riders across the UK from early 2016.

Training data!

Training data!

My other main coaching goal is to go to more events and races with my riders and really improve the support that I am able to offer on a race weekend.   The long-term coaching goal is to coach somebody who wins a World Cup or World Champs, and to get to that level I need to refine exactly what I can provide at a race to give the rider the maximum chance of success.  This is about keeping track of recovery and nutrition, developing a good pre-race routine that works for the individual rider, and generally supporting them so they can perform.  I will be attending one or two BDS rounds and probably the Fort William World Cup where I should (fingers crossed) have more than one rider competing in 2016.

In the gym, my focus for my education is going to be on human movement, bodyweight training and mobility.  This is partly down to personal interest, and partly down to the realisation that most of my riders who work a 9-5 get the most benefit from learning to move better and increasing their mobility.  Whilst I have always worked on these qualities, I am going to prioritise them more before moving onto lifting weights.  I will be attending a couple of courses and seminars in 2016 as well as using books and online resources to deepen my knowledge on these subjects.

 Racing Goals

2015 was a great season for me, reaching my personal goals of finishing consistently in the top 30 of my age group at the UK Gravity Enduro (RIP) series.  I felt that my riding came along a lot, partly due to riding with faster people and partly down to some excellent skills coaching with Pedal Progression in Bristol.  For 2016, and the newly formed British Enduro Series, my goal is to consistently finish in the top 20.  I would also like to get a top 10 at a regional race such as the Mini Enduro.  To achieve that, I have identified a number of training goals to work towards:

Jumping.  It has got a lot better in the last year, but I still need to work on it, especially when things get fast or when the landings get a bit sketchy!

Airtime with Ride Ibiza

Airtime with Ride Ibiza

Cornering. It sounds simple, but I need to continue to improve my basic technique, especially when the corner is flat and slippy.  I will be getting more coaching and spending some time practicing in my own time.  I am currently a bit one sided and turn left a lot better than I turn right.  I want to bridge that gap.

Repeat Sprint.  I am naturally a pretty powerful rider.  I can put out about 2000W on the Wattbike, but my ability to perform repeated maximal sprints was not as good as it should have been for the 2015 season.  Going into the new year and early spring, my programme will make this a priority.

Mobility.  I am fairly flexible and mobile, but feel like I can achieve more to make me more relaxed and fluid on the bike.  I will be doing more bodyweight work this year, with a focus on the mobility and movement that I mentioned earlier.  In particular I am prone to stiffness in my lower back over the course of a riding weekend and if I can move better and be more balanced then I should be able to prevent this.

Pistols.  I can already do pistols on both legs, but my right is a lot stronger.  I would like to be able to do 20 on each leg, developing left/right symmetry as well as strength endurance critical for long, demanding stages.

Riding Goals

These goals are less important to my racing, but are still aspirations I have for the year ahead.  They will help to motivate me to work hard and to ride my bike lots.

Ride 100 miles on the road.  Basically I have never done this and I think it would be a good challenge, so this winter I am going to build up to it.  I am mostly worried about my gusset!

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Race the ‘Ard Rock Enduro with a load of my riding buddies and have an awesome weekend.

Get to the mountains – Alps, Pyrenees, Whistler, I am not picky.  Just get me on a chair lift!

Ride down Mt Snowdon.  It just looks like so much fun, except the push to the top.

Maybe you have some goals for the winter or for the summer ahead?  It is really handy to write them down and make yourself accountable for your actions and your performance.  On a cold, wet evening when you just can’t be arsed, thinking about your goals may just get you out the door to go riding.  Setting goals does not mean you take all the fun out of riding.  It does not have to be deadly serious, but it is just about making the most of your time on the bike and adding some structure to your training if you need it.

If you are serious about your training goals, then maybe consider checking out my Coaching Packages for this winter.  With different options suitable for riders across the UK as well as in the Bristol area, I am sure that we can find a way to work together and smash your goals.

For more info about Coaching with MTB Strength Factory, please follow this link: http://mtbstrengthfactory.com/coaching-mtb/

Stay Strong

Ben