It’s tough being a bike rider from January through late March. The holidays are over, the winter weather is in full swing and the idea of 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. Sometimes lack of motivation rears its ugly head during these challenging times despite our best efforts to press on. Yet many cyclists, both competitive and recreational, have committed to New Year resolutions but are battling regular demons whether that is general fatigue, lack of time, seasonal illness or just plain boredom. What can a cyclist do?
Granted, the amount of downtime you can afford to take in winter depends on your goals for the coming year. If you have a century ride, a bike trip, or a hard race scheduled for June or July, you can probably get away with a layoff. On the other hand, if an athlete wants to maintain fitness over the winter it it’s important to you get your motivation in gear now to make these gains and keep your cycling training on track. Here’s how.
Define your goals. What do you want to accomplish in 2016? 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. The trick is to really dial those goals in. As in, a goal to consistently hitting heart rate zones or power zones for specific workout. Use cycling accessories that are available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors to provide objective feedback. Our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, dives into the benefits of training with power. You may also want to check out our post, Heart Rate Training – What You Need to Know for our staff picks at Peak Cycles Bike Shop. Based on your goals, you can then get an action plan together by defining your training objectives.
Define your training objectives. Now that you have your sights set for some events in 2016, it’s time to take inventory of your abilities to meet your goals for these events. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? For every area of improvement, decide what activity is needed to improve that. If you have poor bike handling skills, then schedule time each week for bike drills. If your core is week, schedule time for yoga or strength training. And, if you are like most cyclist, you could use a little stretching. Make time for stretching to improve your flexibility.
Define your approach. Get a game plan together of how you plan to train and race. Again, taking stock of last year’s performances, where can you improve? Some cyclist focus exclusively on race day performance and evaluate results on a single day. However, take a look at how the days leading up to your event impacted the result. How was you bike nutrition? How was your sleep? Did you have a race strategy in place? Were you familiar with the logistics of the event, as well as, the course profile itself? All of these factors impact day of results. Take time now to review and plan ahead. Experiment with new ideas, products, and approaches. As in, maybe try a new on bike nutrition product. Experiment with different bike parts and bike components. Consider designing and refining a pre-event routine, like a race day ritual. This thoughtful process brings a fresh approach to 2016 and keeps you motivated through the winter months.
Ultimately, motivation for keeping your resolutions 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 2016 cycling season. Happy New Year friends!