One of the common challenges we face as endurance athletes with generally one big target event every year is trying to choose that goal event. While there are some years we want to accomplish a big or epic event (often in birthdays year ending with a 5 or a 0), other years leave us without a clearly-defined event we want to perform exceptionally well in. Instead, we set a prime riding time in which we want to be strong enough to enjoy our riding and do lots of it. This can leave us feeling a little lost or uncertain about how to best spend our time and focus on our training.
Two Different Types of Fitness Goals
Around ten years ago, I read an article or book by Dan John, where he shared the idea of "park bench vs. bus stop bench" fitness. Dan is quite a writer, and I don't remember exactly where I first saw this concept in his work, but you can't go wrong picking up one of his books.
Anyhow, here is the concept in simple terms:
Bus Stop Bench Fitness is expecting to have our fitness arrive on a specific date at a specific time for a specific outcome, just like when we show up to a bus stop bench. We're there for a specific bus going in a specific direction that gets us to our destination at a specific time.
Park Bench Fitness is showing up consistently, knowing we will see some kind of birds (fitness) and that if we show up consistently, we will not only see a lot of birds, but we'll also learn when, how, and which park bench to come to in order to see birds (fitness) of a certain kind.
The difference between the two is the expectations.
One is definitive, with success being determined by the ability to appropriately build and peak/time our performance.
The other is processed oriented.
Both will allow us to learn more about ourselves, our abilities, and what we are capable of.
But the common theme is that we need to show up.
Bring Home The Bacon!
Over our time as an endurance athlete, whether we ride for sport, fitness, or fun, using and setting goals is an important part of the process.
Become, through the process, a better you.
Sometimes bringing home the bacon needs a Bus Stop Bench. Maybe it lights the fire under our own bacon, or maybe it gives us a definite purpose and date to work towards.
Other times, bringing home the bacon is about having a focal area where we can show up, enjoy the ride, and know that we're working toward a better, stronger, fitter version of ourselves.
When done with intent and enjoyment of the process itself, both goal-setting methods are incredibly rewarding and worthy. The choice of which you use for 2024 and beyond is up to you!