You all trained hard during the winter and early spring with us in the ICE classes, and once the weather started to improve, the streets beckoned to be ridden and we set you free to ride out on your own. Some of you could not wait for the opportunity to attack the road after months of indoor training. For others, facing several months with a loss of class structure is a daunting and anxiety-ridden undertaking.
You may be saying to yourself, “I love riding my bike, but I know I won’t keep it up, I don’t have the self-discipline to make myself train and ride on my own.” Being someone who has faced this problem at various points in my life, the message I want to give to you is, “Fear not!”. Even for those most doubtful of riders, there is hope. Your best defense is in preparation. You need to equip yourself with a set of tools to carry with you in your ‘imaginary tool box’. By preparing yourself, it is possible to steer clear of motivation issues altogether. If problems do occur, the tools you developed will allow you to take them in stride and steer you back to a positive and productive direction.
Your question now may be, “What are these tools?”. The easy answer is, there are no set tools that will work for everyone. Ultimately, each individual will have to do some sorting and ‘trying on’, in order to find an effective combination. That being said, I will let you in on several important tools that I have found have helped many people, including myself.
Allow for bad days, and remember, there IS no pass/fail.
You’ll be doing yourself a favor by allowing for an occasional day of low motivation. Everyone has bad days and days where you just really don’t feel like doing something! If you are too strict and unforgiving with yourself when you fail to go out for a ride one day that you have planned, then it could ultimately discourage you from training in the future. When you’ve been training hard and on a regular basis, sometimes you need a moment to re-charge mentally – give it to yourself!
On a similar note, I have seen people not even want to try because they are just afraid they will let themselves down, and that fear of failure keeps them from trying in the first place. Forgiveness and the willingness to try, even and especially when you’re not perfect, are some of the most powerful tools you can keep in your imaginary toolbox.
Whenever I’m tempted to bail on a workout because I, ‘just don’t feel like it’, or, ‘it’s not sunny out’, I remember who I’ll be letting down by skipping out on my ride – me. It helps as well to remind myself how much better and accomplished I feel once I complete a workout.
Have a goal.
This does not need to be a competition you are looking to train for, it could be a grand fondo event at the end of the summer. Your goal could be to get your fitness to the point (or just sustain your fitness), so that you can keep up with a weekly group ride. Or you could simply have the goal of keeping fit by commuting over the summer by bike to work.
Whatever it is, when you have some goal to gear your training towards, it will give you a kick in motivation. Make sure you let your friends and family in on your goal, spread the word, all these people can help support you and keep you on track.
Find a buddy.
When you have a like-minded friend, you can train together and help keep each other on track. Plus, it’s fun to train with friends!
Keep a log
Keeping a log can be helpful for motivation. Writing down all of your training allows you to visually track progress. When you see in front of you how much you’ve completed, and you get to see your continuing progress, your sense of satisfaction grows as well. Your journal is a reminder of the commitment to yourself and your endeavours. Online ride-tracking resources are available and one of the most popular is www.Strava.com, a site that allows you to download rides tracked from your Garmin device or smartphone, directly online to your own free account. Strava has the option of making your rides public on their website, allowing you to add a competitive element into your ride documentation by comparing your ride times with others.
Get a coach
I’ll let you in on a secret: coaches aren’t reserved for an elite few. There is no qualifier in whether you can work with a cycling coach or not, and they are a HUGE help for those serious about not only maintaining fitness, but improving fitness as well. Coaches can bring an entirely new perspective to your sport, and can find ways to continually change things up or keep things fun. It’s all about YOU with coaching, and talk about a motivator – coaching will undoubtedly help keep you on track.
You can find out about Cycle University’s Coaching options online on our coaching page.
I encourage you to try out some of these pointers, and find what works for you! Your ideal strategy may be a combination of things. Knowing how I work as an athlete (I’m naturally lazy!), has led me to find that I benefit from working with coaches, involving myself in a like-minded community, AND having goals I’m working towards! Fitness is a continual work in progress, and remember, EVERYONE struggles to keep on track once in a while!