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How to stay motivated to cycling fitness the colder months

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Winter is a tough time for cyclists. Reduced daylight hours, inclement weather and component-destroying conditions can make it challenging to get into a rhythm with your training.

Winter cycling tests a cyclist’s resilience, endurance, determination, and ruggedness. Unless you’re a professional or competitive cyclist, you may find cycling in winter rather challenging. However, suppose you want to join other cyclists in braving the cold and cycle your way around winter. In that case, you must first maintain good cycling fitness.

Whether you have a goal event or just want to take your riding to the next level for the 2022 season, here are some tips to help you pedal towards success.

一、Set Winter Cycling Training Goals

The goal is to find a measurable metric that can benchmark where you are now and track your progress to ensure that your work has the desired effect.

  1. Test Yourself
    The first step in embarking on any cycling training schedule is to understand where it is you’re starting from.
    By conducting some simple testing using the training tools you have available, you’re able to get a clear picture of where your fitness is right now.
    The test could be a test of speed, intensity, or endurance. Results should be recorded and used to track and compare progress.
    You can design a custom test to assess what you want or modify an existing test to suit your purpose.

2. Set Realistic Goals
What do you want to achieve?
These long-term goals can be fitness-related, performance-based, or a mixture of the two. A fitness-based goal, such as achieving a particular threshold power or VO2 max value, works well as a more performance-based goal, such as a time on a virtual Strava segment.
Use the popular SMART approach to make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. This is really helpful when setting meaningful goals.
Alongside these goals, you’ll also want to set appropriate short-term objectives to measure your progress along the way. For example, a target threshold power improvement by the halfway stage of your training is building towards a hilly event.
These objectives will help to ensure you’re constantly heading in the right direction.

Don’t forget to set a timeline for your goals — a goal without a timeline is just a plan.
Create a routine that fits into your daily routine and responsibilities. Have a fixed time and duration every day to practice and stick to it — this will help you be consistent.
It is essential to ensure that the routine is flexible if other commitments contend with your training. Sometimes, life would get in the way of your responsibility; one should not be too rigid. A routine will help.

二、Get an Accountability Partner

Your spouse, sibling, or anyone else can serve as your accountability partner. It’s their job to see that you do not miss your riding sessions;
They are responsible for helping you keep it together, rekindling your passion, supporting you, and cheering. Motivation is required to keep up with cycling during winter. And even if you do have the physical strength and resolve to cycle during the water, you need the mental support from an accountability partner that will ensure you stick to your plans and stay true to your goal. Research has shown that moral support can boost an athlete’s performance considerably.
Cycling on your own is hugely rewarding, but sometimes, it can be really encouraging to plan a ride with a friend when the weather is bad. You’ll have the incentive of not wanting to let them down and having to meet them at a certain time to force you out the door. Riding with a friend in bad weather can be great for morale, as you’re both in it together and can be good from a safety point of view too.

三、Strict Healthy Diet

No one is asking you to quit the chips or soda you love. Still, while it’s ok to indulge, your primary meals should contain a balance of all the adequate nutrients and calories your body needs.
Your meals should be a balanced mix of protein, carbs, fiber, a considerable amount of fats, and water. Protein is needed to build muscle, and carbohydrates are burned up to provide energy. Healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) help with vitamin absorption and provide insulation. The goal is not just to eat but to eat right.
Using heart rate and/or power data from your head unit, smartphone, or the training app of your choice can provide you with a relatively accurate count on the number of calories used during a session.

四、Cycle Commuting

Not only is it a great way to keep your fitness ticking over, but it costs very little – in fact, it will save you money – and is exhilarating compared to being stuffed in the Tube, train, bus or car. Plus you can buff up your epicness credentials with colleagues when they see you’ve cycled in through the conditions they even thought twice about driving in. Oh, and you don’t have to do it every day, although once you start it is quite hard to stop.

五、Indoor Trainer

Indoor trainers are a great substitute for inclement winter weather, but more importantly, they’re the best way to get into a structured workout. The right tools are imperative to have long-term success with indoor winter cycling training. Two words should describe your indoor-training environment: comfortable and accessible. The important thing is that it can’t be, or feel like, a ton of work to get on the bike. You must eliminate as many obstacles as possible. Is your indoor training setup crowded, noisy, too bright, too cold, or too warm? These are all things you should address.
Of all the aspects of your indoor training setup, cooling is probably the single biggest issue because you’re not moving. It can be hugely limiting especially as you get into higher intensity workouts. This is one reason cyclists might think they have an indoor FTP and an outdoor FTP. But really, it just boils down to focus and cooling. The vast majority of cooling comes from evaporative cooling rather than room temperature, so a good fan is essential. Place one at the base of your bike and aim it at your body, or put it front in center on its high setting and you’ll be good to go.

  1. Do Resistance Trainer
    A resistance trainer is a simple device that clamps onto the rear axle of your bike and presses a resistance roller against the rear tire so that you can ride in place. It would make you break a sweat probably faster than when you are cycling outdoors.
  1. Make it Fun
    The best way to put a stick through the spokes of progress is to turn your training plan into a chore, so try to make the process as enjoyable as possible. Add in some Daft Punk, a podcast to pique your interest, or streaming The Boys on Amazon Prime, do whatever it takes to ensure your session is a boring death march.
    For structured workouts where you’re targeting specific training zones, indoor cycling apps such as Zwift, Trainerroad and Wahoo SYSTM are ideal for getting high-quality sessions done in a very time-efficient manner. Many of these apps also offer tailor-made training plans for you to follow.
    Using ERG mode on a smart trainer, where the power is set at a prescribed output for your session (or the intervals within it), can help hit the numbers necessary to achieve the desired improvements.
    Indoor cycling also means you avoid any interruptions from traffic – again allowing you to get the most out of every session.
  1. Keep Training Motivated
    Indoor training has long been typecast as boring. The natural conclusion is that we need to make it feel like we’re riding outside to be entertained. Many cyclists like to use forms of entertainment to keep their minds occupied, but the real secret to achieving workouts that seem to fly by has benchmarks you have to hit.
    If you want the time on the trainer to pass quickly, set goals for your workouts and create plans for achieving those goals.
    Before each workout, write down precisely what you want to accomplish during it. Even if it’s a recovery workout, every workout should have an interval structure with prescribed interval intensities and durations.

六、Outdoor Do Workouts

Paved roads are often slick and icy for much of the winter, which isn’t super conducive to bike riding.
One great tip is to have a dedicated winter bike that you’re happy to ride outdoors in bad conditions.
The right equipment includes a cost-effective bike with mudguards and puncture-resistant winter tires. (can go a long way to keeping your motivation intact through winter)
When performing your workouts outside during winter, be strategic. Suppose a workout looks really specific with many different intervals and rest periods. In that case, you’re better off doing it indoors. This will help you focus on the quality of your workout.
If you’re following a properly structured training plan, your weeks should follow a consistent pattern. For weekdays you should have your shorter, more intense, structure-workouts. Then on the weekends, you should have longer rides with slight fluctuation and specificity. When these workouts are prescribed, consider them an opportunity to do your workout outdoors.

七、Take Care To Rest

It’s important to constantly adjust your training as you go, based on how you’re responding to the workouts and how much time and energy you realistically have available.
Making tweaks and iterations will help ensure you’re not leaving any fitness on the table – or worse, risk overtraining and burnout.
Busy riders often underestimate the impact of stress external to training (such as work and family pressures) and the extent to which they can negatively affect athletic performance, so always stay on the conservative side and don’t be too wedded to what you originally planned at the outset.

八、Workout At Tthe Gym

Many riders see the world as their gym and their bike the workout equipment. However, a few hours pumping iron every week can yield tremendous benefits on the bike and in your everyday life. During the off-season, gym workouts can be incorporated two or even three times per week, but as hours on your bike increase, ensure you retain one session per week focusing on strength and conditioning.
Time in the gym will not only increase your overall muscular strength but help you to stay injury-free as well. Improved flexibility and stronger muscles, ligaments, and tendons lead to happy joints and fewer injuries — especially when you hit the deck.
Neuromuscular efficiency is another major benefit. As your muscles adapt to lifting heavier loads, motor unit recruitment increases, meaning you can recruit more muscle fibers as you pedal, increasing the amount of power you’re able to produce.

九、Focus On Quality Over Quantity

My final tip for maintaining motivation this winter is to focus on quality rather than quantity. That is the quality of each individual training session, rather than the number of weekly hours on the bike. Depending on your race calendar for the coming year, you may not need to be logging multiple five hour rides on the trainer. Winter is the time to explore your minimum effective dose (MED) from a training perspective. How can you achieve the greatest adaptation with as little effort as possible.

十、Cycling In Cold Weather Benefits:

-You burn more calories.
-Counteract holiday weight gain.
-Combat the winter blues.
-Avoid getting sick.
-Save a lot of money on gas