Cycling isn't always fun. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes getting on your bike seems like the last thing you want to do.
However, one thing's for certain, when you come back from a ride you rarely say "I wish I hadn't gone out today" and 99 times out of 100 you feel great afterwards.
So, how do you make the seemingly huge leap from comfy chair or cozy bed to a rather less appealing bicycle saddle?
Have a Goal
If you don't have one, go and find one. It doesn't have to be a race, it can simply be a desire to stay fit and healthy, a distance that you want to be able to ride, a weight loss goal or a fellow rider you want to be able to put in the suffer box on a climb. One thing is for sure, though: everyone has a reason that they ride, and reminding yourself of that reason regularly helps enforce the behavior of performing the activity.
If you're the competitive type, there are many races and events to choose from, and there is nothing like a looming event to give you a kick and get you on the bike. Check your local event listings, pick one, sign up and, presto...suddenly you feel a lot more like riding.
Make the Most of Your Limited Time
"I don't have time."
It's an excuse that I hear often and I'm guilty of using it too. However, one thing I have learned over the years is that in most instances doing something is better than doing nothing at all. So, you may not have time to do a 3-hour ride before work, but if you only have an hour, use it.
Do a 15-minute warm-up, gradually increasing cadence and pace, then move into a 35-minute training session (believe me you can gain fitness benefits in 35 minutes) and then spin your legs out for the last 10 minutes. If you've only got an hour to ride, then make every minute count. Don't just go out and ride aimlessly for an hour. Ride every minute with a purpose. That doesn't mean every minute has to be hard and painful but the 60 minutes should structure.
Ride With Friends
I used to arrange to meet a cycling friend on a dark, cold street in South West London at 5.30 a.m. every Tuesday. Nine times out of 10 I would wake up and pray that I had a text saying she couldn't make it, and nine times out of 10 my friend would lie in bed doing exactly the same thing.
Pure stubbornness and a refusal to be the one to send that text got us both to that frosty street corner and you know what? Every Tuesday at 8 a.m. we always agreed we were glad neither had sent that text. Committing to ride with friends is a great way to get you and your chamois reacquainted.
Get a Coach
Having a third party set you a training plan gives you a structure to your training regimen. A good coach should make a plan specific to you, your time commitments, your ability and your goals. There's also nothing like having to report in to someone regularly to keep you focused and get you on the bike when you don't much feel like it.
Become a Creature of Habit
You often hear the advice that doing the same thing over and over doesn't make you better or fitter, but what it can do is get you into a routine. Pick some weekly ride and commit to joining them. Find a route you like and make it your standard training route to test your fitness gains. Choose a hill climb and ride up it regularly, timing it from start to finish. Once you've established a routine it's much easier to build on it, see improvements in your fitness or push yourself a little further each time.
Shout it From the Rooftops
Tell everyone your ride plans. The more people you tell, the harder it is to back out and the fact that you are repeatedly making a statement out loud helps implant that positive intention in your brain.
If all else fails then perhaps consider just riding when you want to, simply because you enjoy it and don't stress about not being motivated. You may just rediscover your cycling mojo when you least expect to.
Find motivation. Search for a cycling event.
Josephine Allen is in charge of business development for Cycling Camp San Diego. She is a level 2 USA cycling coach and an experienced endurance cyclist.
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