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Staying Motivated To Cycle

It's almost September, and September is a month full of changes: changing leaves, changing temperatures, new routines, new chapters, and warmer kit. But what if September also gave you the chance to focus on a new cycling goal. When it comes to goal setting, there are very few undertakings that are more challenging than maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle throughout seasonal changes, especially after the initial motivation of spring and summer training wears off and your cycling goals have been checked. With all cooler days ahead, how do we keep motivated and inspired to cycle during the changing seasons?

Personally, I've struggled with staying motivated since moving to the North East. Fall is bearable but winter is hard on me and staying in bed and indoors is a lot more enjoyable. I enjoy watching nature change but I personally have had to develop goals over the years of living in seasonal climates to help me stay motivated to keep fit and active as cooler weather settles in. Last year I joined a spin class 3x's a week to help me keep strong for the warmer season ahead, however, this year a new challenge is needed and I've got my mind set on a few goals ahead of me. To help you get in the mindset of goal setting for the cooler seasons ahead, here are a few tips to help you stay motivated to cycle.

Set goals: Nothing will motivate you more than trying to achieve a goal. Don’t just say, “I want to reach x amount of base miles this season.” Add more fun to it and make yourself accountable.  Find a local ride, do a fall bike tour, join a half century or century ride, or any active event and sign up for it. For example, Rapha does a Braver Than The Elements and Festive 500 ride that keeps us pedaling to meet our goals while finishing the year off strong. Start with a small goal or one that’s difficult to even imagine as reachable, be accountable by setting goals on Strava and just do it

Make it a priority: Ask yourself: “How do I want to feel when I wake up in the morning? Would I rather be caught up on my favorite late-night TV show but wake up tired? Or, would I rather go to bed earlier so that I may rise refreshed and energized to get a workout in?” I really struggled initially when training for my first century ride earlier this year. I had no idea how to fit in my workouts into my already busy schedule, while simultaneously living up to my family, career, and home-owner expectations.

However, it was very important to me, and I was highly motivated to find a doable solution. I was never a morning person but realized it was the only time I could get my outdoor rides in before sunset. It wasn’t easy at first, but slowly I got used to a new routine.

Schedule a regular workout time. Some of the most committed athletes work out very early in the morning. No one will schedule a meeting at 4 or 5am. It will be just you and the road, and no one will bother you. If mornings are hectic for you, then see what time of the day will work better for you and commit to it! Many workout routine people I know have early job commitments, so mornings are not an ideal time for workouts, yet they find time in the evening after their jobs and obligations.

Don’t let the weather stop you. I don’t like cold and can’t stand snow (anything below 60˚F is considered cold for me). However, I live in the Northeast, where ice and snow go with the territory. I never let the weather be a barrier to my training plans. Some of my most memorable rides happened after big snow storms when the sun is out and the skies are clear. If I am not up to dealing with the weather, then I take my rides indoors and enjoy listening to music or watching a favorite show on BBC.

Don’t waste time. Make your rides count. If you are out of the door, then get a good ride in. Get going with a plan, and do it!
Surround yourself with active people. Get to know active people at your local cycle club or gym. Join a group or ask your local bike shop about group rides. You will make a lot of friends that will keep you motivated and from whom you will learn. You can also find and join an active group on many of the social networking sites like Strongher or Strava.

Keep it simple. The more you complicate things, the higher the chance you will lose interest. Want to try cyclocross? Rent a cyclocross bike and go out and ride to try it. No need to worry about ideal gear or finding the latest and greatest gadget advertised in magazines, or reading about and searching online for the ultimate training program. Just start riding some trails, and you’ll figure out the rest later.

Use social media. Many like to use social media such as Instagram, Twitter, or more fitness specific ones such as Runkeeper, Strava, DailyMile to post their workouts. Telling your followers about your workouts makes you feel accountable. Also, many find motivation from reading others’ workouts.

Mix it up. By nature, we need change to keep motivated. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you will get burned out. Start riding trails or different routes, or try to challenge yourself differently on a ride by maintaining a faster speed or doing hill reps. If you belong to a gym, look at the group workouts they offer and try something different. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and stay motivated at the same time.

Reward yourself—buy new gear. Who doesn't love NEW KIT DAY! When training for long hours, one of the methods that have been proven to keep athletes motivated is new gear. The smell of new cycling shoes or that coveted GPS Garmin watch can get you going. Even loading new music into the iPhone can spark your workouts.

So start thinking of yourself as an athlete and not a spectator. Set a goal, mark it on your calendar, and have fun with it. You’ll quickly realize the benefits of better health, more energy, and more happiness on and off the bike.

Image Courtesy @masmela

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