Use Support Goals to Make Fitness Gains Through the End of the Year 

November 6, 2014

Halloween has come and gone.  Daylight savings time has ended.  Ugh, the dreaded winter months will soon be upon us.  Keeping up the motivation to exercise on a cold winter day instead of curling up under a warm blanket on the sofa can be difficult, not to mention the allure of the holidays.  All distractions pulling our energy and focus everywhere but the bike.

Yet, there are ways to make the transition through the Fall and Winter seasons work.  Some use cyclocross to maintain or gain fitness; others use technology as a means to boost motivation.  While others, think a little outside the box and choose to focus on support goals.  You might be wondering what the heck is a support goal?  Supportive goals are those activities that are indirectly related to your cycling yet can positively impact your performance.  They are oftentimes activities that are neglected during the season.  The Fall and Winter months are ideal to opt to focus on supportive goals.  Here’s why.

Selecting a goal to focus outside of the scope of your general cycling regimen can be refreshing and help you feel like you are still on your game.  These goals can be less time intensive allowing you to enjoy more family or social time.  Check out these support goals for ideas.  Consider selecting one to focus on for the month of November and add another one to focus on for the month of December.  Before you know it, you’ll be moving into 2015 refreshed and energized with added gains.

Build up your core with core exercises.  For some cyclists, strength training is a welcomed part of the training process; however, for others, it is a necessary evil. Yet, to avoid injury as well as get stronger on the bike, strength training is becoming a critical aspect of year round training.  The best way to train all parts of the body is through working with a full range of motion while strength training.  Dial in the best core exercises for you by reading Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists.

Improve your flexibility.  Consider doing yoga.  In cycling, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips never rest. As a result, riders often have overdeveloped quadriceps and tight hamstrings, which can pull the hips out of alignment. Also, a cyclist’s spine is constantly flexed forward. If proper form isn’t maintained, it can result in muscle pain and strain in the back and shoulders. Yoga helps ease the tightness, creating core strength, and aligning the spine.  Even if you aren’t into yoga, there are 3 poses you should practice.

Improve your body image.    As athletes, many have negative self conversations that impact how they feel about themselves and ultimately, affect performance. Learn the Three Steps to Having a Healthy Body Image and move into 2015 feeling better about yourself.  It’s important to be healthy, be fit, and be proud of who you are.

Ultimately, if all else fails, remember, the Holiday season is right around the corner! Nothing inspires cycling more than getting a new bike, purchasing some new cycling accessories or getting some new cycling apparel to wear.  Better yet, why not add some support goals AND get some new bike parts?!

Off the Back on Training? Dial in Your Training for Spring Racing

March 13, 2014
Spring Racing at Peak Cycles

Spring Racing at Peak Cycles

Daylight savings time is here!  That means longer days and more ride time.  Before you know it, the Spring racing season will be off!

Are you ready?

Like many, the winter weather has many off on the sidelines but there are ways to get in shape just in time for Spring riding.

The trick is efficiency.  With your goals that is. If you aren’t clear on what you are trying to accomplish, chances are, your training will fall short.  The post, Using the “Power of 3” to Reach your Goals, shares 3 important questions related to positioning your Spring training and racing: What We Want to Do, What We Can Do, What We Did Do.  It illustrates the point that as you go about setting and obtaining your cycling goals, attacking them from 3 different angles will greatly increase your chances for success.

Starting with what you want to do –  it’s important to Make Proper Goal Setting a Priority for Your 2014 Cycling Season. What do you want to accomplish?  When? How do you know you’ve reached your goals?  Making SMART  (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound) goals not only boosts your chances of attaining your goals, but you also  become a better cyclist in the process.  Clearly define your goals for early season riding and racing so that they are realistic yet goal worthy.

Moving on to what you can do –  you can begin now to monitor your efforts and begin incorporating Zone 3 Efforts.  What does that mean?  According to the post, Improve Cycling Endurance Using Zone 3, it means,For cyclists entering into their late base training phases, increasing muscular endurance and strength on the bike needs to become a greater focus. The greater your muscle endurance, the less fatigue you will experience towards the end of a long race and the more intensity you can handle while training.”  Use a power meter, heart rate monitor, and other valid bio feedback tools to optimize your workouts.  Make your time on the bike matter.

Finally, evaluate what you did do.  Did you stick with your training plan? Did you complete your strength training? Have you registered for your upcoming races?  Reflect back on what you said you were going to do and objectively answer – did you do it?  Note where you fell short and why.  You can beat yourself up and feel guilty for missing training.  Or, you can learn from your mishaps and restructure your training plan to accommodate things you have control over.

The post, Missing training – Adjusting the plan, reminds us, “ It’s easy to beat yourself up over missed training, but if you have been steady with training, give yourself a break. Gaining fitness doesn’t happen in one or two days and losing fitness doesn’t happen in one or two days. It takes months of steady training to gain good fitness. A few days missed or logging a fewer less hours than planned for a week is a small blip on the radar.”

The key here – start pedaling.  Longer days means more sunshine and time to ride.  Now’s the time to dial it all in – your goals, your training, your bike parts, and your races for Spring 2014!

Follow Your Heart: Using Commitment to Reach New Heights on the Bike

February 13, 2014 InspirationCommitment.  A simple word but can be viewed two fold.  Commitment as being dedicated to a cause or an activity.  Or, commitment as an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

When you think of being committed to your cycling, which definition rings true for you? Like many, both seem true.  While we all like to consider our training plans and racing regimens to be a true testament to our cycling passion, we also face the time restrictions and sacrifices our cycling commitments force us to make.  Cycling can be a loved and hated passion.

Yet, in between loving and hating our two wheeled friends, there are varying degrees of commitment.  While you tell yourself you are pushing the limits in training, or taking on big audacious goals in the new season, you might find there are still new ways to commit.  You may secretly know where your love of the bike is wavering and in true Valentine’s day form – there is an opportunity to stop hiding out and playing it safe.  You can commit on a deeper level to your fitness and well being.

There are a host of ways to embrace commitment.  It all starts with a desire for more – to improve from a present state to a future state.  For many competitive cyclist looking back to the 2013 cycling season, it begins with personal reflection.  Evaluating the past season with objectivity gives insights as to what worked and didn’t work in the previous year. Committing to strengthening and improving on areas of weakness rather than just concentrating on what you do well elevates your skills and experience as a cyclist.

Looking forward to the 2014 season, commitment takes form by asking yourself  what it is you would love to accomplish?  Don’t just play it safe and do the same events year after year.  Step it up.  Commit to something bigger.  Ask more of yourself.  Choose different events – or do the same events – but faster!  Make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound),  but also inspiring.

What other ways can you commit to cycling?  Could it be using your heart rate, or power meter offers options in calculating mileage and other fitness related variables.  Try a new tool and see if it makes adding up the miles a little easier.  Consider getting new bike parts to fuel your newfound commitment to your cycling goals.

Committing yourself to your fondest goals and desires can be comforting while also frightening.  Yet, digging deeper into your dreams and desires and fully committing to their success can be personally rewarding and extremely fulfilling.  Reach new heights on the bike this season – commit to it!

Do You Know the Right Way to Train?

January 23, 2014
Charlie Knoll racing the 2012 Teva Games, Pro category

Charlie Knoll racing the 2012 Teva Games, Pro category

Your heart is pumping, your legs are burning, and you’re dripping enough sweat to put out a small forest fire.

You are suffering.

But is your suffering worthwhile?  Are you “just riding” every day without a strategic approach to your training?  Are your efforts hard enough to force physical adaptations? Do you take easy days for recovery so you can repeat your critical workouts?

Having a strategic approach and structured training means every workout has a purpose.  Every step, pedal and stroke is being performed with the confidence it’s the right thing to do and performed the right way.  The post, The Right Way to Train, shares four essential components of deliberate practice, and based on these four components, there is a 4-step process that embodies the right way to train:

  1. Set a specific goal
  2. Get expert instruction
  3. Perform structured training
  4. Get immediate feedback

Having a strategic approach includes not only having the tools needed, but also, including a comprehensive plan.  Meaning, a plan that includes training on the bike and off the bike.  Daily nutrition and sleep habits play a vital role in training properly.  Managing your overall stress levels, including time management, ensures  proper recovery.

As you prepare for your 2014 season as an athlete, make sure you have all of the components to training “the right way” to achieve your goal.

Having ambition goals for the season is great.  Discover what you need to support your training in reaching those goals.  Do you need a cycling coach? Maybe you need a bike fit or training software? Having the right tools, systems, habits, and overall strategy in place can make the difference between suffering through your season with disappointment or making big gains in reward and satisfaction.

Post Holiday Blues? What To Do When You Are Lacking Cycling Motivation

January 2, 2014

Motivation is the foundation all athletic effort and accomplishment. Without your desire and determination to improve your sports performances, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless. To become the best athlete you can be, you must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize your ability and achieve your goals.

But when the weather is poor, sunlight is at a minimum, and riding conditions are less than ideal, what do you do?  Add to the fact that the holidays are now over with not much to look forward to between now and Spring and race season, many find the added holiday weight gain and winter conditions to be a downer on motivation. How do you stay motivated to ride?

The reason motivation is so important is that it is the only contributor to sports performance over which you have control. Much like training your physical body for the challenges of cycling, motivation is built too – it is not stumbled upon.  Following are 5 ways to build your motivation muscle:

Have a goal.  As you are considering your new goals for 2014, it’s important to evaluate the previous season with an objective, yet critical eye.  Too loft of a goal may be intimidating and back fire on you.  The post, Make Proper Goal Setting a Priority for Your 2014 Cycling Season offers 10 key questions for evaluation and proper goal setting for your 2014 season.  Make intermediate and long term goals to keep you inspired to do your daily workouts. 

Fine tune your fitness – use a heart rate monitor or power meter. Sure, heart rate monitors and power meters have been around for a while now, but how effectively are you using them?  Learning what what you need to know about the nuances, ranges, and data interpretation can make a difference in just getting a workout in versus targeting a specific workout in which you hit numbers and are motivated to get after it again the next day. 

Make friends with the trainer.  Nobody likes riding the trainer much less riding it for consecutive days in a row, but there are ways to overcome trainer woes  to eliminate boredom and support your training.  Read the post here for ideas on the best equipment to use and tips for trainer workouts.  Try different approaches, times of day, and lengths of workouts to keep your trainer workouts fresh.

Dial it in!  Your body and your bike – that is!  Have you gained weight during the holiday season?  Check out Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains –   for easy ways to drop the pounds.  And, consider getting a bike fit.  Yes, a bike fit.  We’ve heard about them, talked about them, but somehow, most of us don’t get one.  And why not?  They say the quickest way to get faster on the bike is with a bike fit.  Sure, fit impacts comfort but it also impacts technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries and how you ride. Meaning it directly affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. Dialing  in your body and your bike parts will keep you motivated as you discover how the new changes positively affect your time on the bike.

Train your brain.  How are you training your brain? We think of discipline as a form of training or exercising the brain but use the power of visualization to motivate yourself and accomplish you 2014 season goals. The post, The Power of Mental Suffering offers key insights as to how thought creates a powerful reality.

Ultimately, motivation is not something that can be given to you. Rather, motivation must ultimately come from within.  Just like the passion you have for cycling.  Dig deep, find what inspires you, connect with that and pedal your way to a successful 2014 cycling season.  Happy New Year friends!