Winter is one of the toughest seasons for a cyclist. Summer seems a long way off and a slight loss in fitness and a couple of extra pounds in body weight doesn’t seem that big a deal. It can be hard to keep your goals in mind when it is cold outside and warm in bed. Missing one session now isn’t going to make much difference come July is it? One missed session won’t matter but the gradual slipping of focus can easily lead to a few weeks of haphazard training, lost fitness and dwindling motivation.
Many of us thrive on ticking off achievements and meeting small goals keeps us motivated and on track. Process goals, smaller goals on the way to your major summer goal, are one way of doing this. The further your motivation has slipped the smaller those goals should be. It could be as simple as starting three training rides this week, or completing one session that focuses on your technique. Start small, tiny even, so small they don’t seem worth writing down but as you successfully tick them off you can move onto bigger things.
Research into willpower has found various interesting things but one of the most obvious, is that good habits breed good habits. The four habits that seem to make the basis for productive healthy living are; eating well, sleeping well, being organized and exercise. Most of us struggle with at least one of these! Whilst it might seem to make more sense to tackle them one at a time approaching all four at once is more successful as they are so interdependent. Complete a good training session and you are less inclined to eat junk food, sleep well and you have the energy for exercise, be organized in your work and personal life and you will be able to carve out the time to train.
Following a training plan is the easiest way to stay on track and not lose direction, but for you to want to stick to it you need to be fully engaged with it and believe it will work. Signing up to a plan on its own won’t be enough. If you feel like you are losing direction remind yourself of why you want to train. Write a list of all the reasons why you want stay fit this winter. No one has to see this but you, doesn’t matter how small or silly those things might appear to someone else. Enter an early-season event like the Wattbike No Excuses Series, mark it in your diary and pin up your entry somewhere visible. No one is making you do this so you need to tap into your own inner resources for motivation!
Kick start your focus by getting organized. Look at your week and plan when you will ride, mark it in your diary so the time is ring-fenced as if it was an appointment. Make sure your cupboards are full of healthy food that will make you feel good after your ride and help with your recovery. Set an alarm for when you will start getting ready for bed, and that includes turning off electronic devices that can make it harder to drift off to sleep. Put out your cycling clothes the night before so no time is wasted. It is hard to ignore your riding kit hanging up and beckoning to you. Arrange to join a friend for an early morning Wattbike session or plan to ride to work.
This is all simple stuff but you want to create an environment where it is easier to go riding than avoid it! It’s easy to do things when you are keen but when motivation is lacking you have to fall back on discipline and well established habits. As you get back on plan and start to see some fitness progress motivation levels naturally start to rise.