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How to stick to your New Year's cycling fitness resolutions

It’s easy to let New Year’s resolutions slip, so here are ten tips to help you stay committed to your fitness routine as a cyclist over the coming months

As the new year begins, many of us embark on a journey to get fitter. However, with the persistently cold and damp weather, the initial excitement may dwindle, and our dedication to those resolutions might start to waver. Apparently it takes 66 days to form a habit, so here are some key ways to stay motivated ensuring you stay committed to your fitness routine over the coming months. ToB ride out 9.jpg

In 2020, according to an analysis of historical Strava data, the day people were most likely to waver was the second Friday in January which isn't great! On the plus side, anyone faltering by then has eight days of exercise behind them but there are still 357 days of the year to go.

1. Set yourself goals 

It can be quite easy to skip a ride when it’s damp and dreary if you don’t have an overall goal in mind. What difference does it make if you miss a ride in January when there’s plenty of time to catch up in the summer? That kind of thinking can lead to lots of missed rides and all of a sudden your fitness has taken a big hit. 

If you’re working towards a definite realistic goal – ideally long term, medium term and short term goals – every ride has a purpose and you’ll be more motivated to jump on your bike and get things done.

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Clearly outline your cycling goals for the year, whether it's increasing mileage, improving speed, or conquering specific routes. I find it effective to set a weekly distance goal on Strava, which serves as a motivating target but also gives a sense of achievement each week. 

Getting a race or sportive on the calendar is also a great way to keep you on track. If I've paid an entry fee, I don't want it to go to waste! 

2. Exercise with friends

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Most of us enjoy riding with friends for the camaraderie, the company, the conversation and perhaps an element of competition. Plus, if you’ve arranged to hook up with a mate you’re less likely to bail at the last minute because you won’t want to let them down. 

You can always find a reason not to ride if you look around hard enough – it’s wet out, you’ve got a bit of a sniffle, you need to tidy your sock drawer, or whatever. Arranging to ride with friends establishes a strong reason to get out there anyway.

You could also consider setting mutual weekly targets, fostering friendly competition to see who achieves them first, or organising a group ride on one of the best indoor cycling apps if you really don't fancy braving the cold. 

3. Join a club 

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Joining a club will help you stay motivated for many of the same reasons that exercising with friends will. Most cycling clubs organise regular group rides which not only add structure to your training but also introduce an element of camaraderie. 

Group rides often explore different routes and the chances are, someone else has planned it, and perhaps even thought about a café stop, so all you need to do is turn up at the right time and tuck in behind other riders if you're not feeling particularly energetic. 

It's easier to join a club than you might think and many cycling clubs welcome riders of various skill levels meaning there's likely to be a group that suits you, allowing you to progress at your own pace. 

4. Ride in the morning 

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Getting into a routine of cycling in the morning increases the likelihood of consistent physical activity and sets a positive tone for your day. 

Completing your workout in the morning also minimises scheduling conflicts and frees up time later in the day for other responsibilities. As much as you tell yourself you'll get your training done later, that time often doesn't come and other priorities take precedence.

To make it easier for yourself, consider simplifying your morning routine by setting your bike up on the turbo the night before, or getting your kit out ready. This will make it as smooth as possible to get on the bike in the morning especially when time is limited. 

5. Plan your sessions in advance 

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Planning your cycling sessions in advance increases the likelihood that you'll complete your cycling sessions consistently because it creates a structured routine, establishing clear goals and optimising time management. 

It's important to integrate when you want to train into your weekly schedule so you can work around social events and work commitments. At the end of each week, I like to work out how much time I have available each day the following week and plan what sessions I want to get done on what days. It also helps to have regular sessions that you carry out on the same day each week to make your training more consistent. 

6. Mix up your rides 

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To maintain motivation, it's important to keep your cycling routine dynamic and engaging. Incorporating a range of rides and terrain is key - mixing road riding with off-road riding, adding in interval sessions, conquering hills and exploring scenic routes. This ensures not only an interesting cycling experience but also constant challenges to enhance your skills and fitness. 

You could also incorporate strength training into your regime which not only contributes to enhanced cycling performance but also plays a big role in injury prevention.  

7. Be flexible 

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It's important to avoid an 'all or nothing' mindset because life has a habit of getting in the way and it's unlikely that you're always going to manage every session you have planned. 

If you miss your rides on Monday and Tuesday because of work or a mechanical problem, say, don’t write off the entire week as a failure. You need to accept that individual rides can go awry and keep your focus on the bigger picture. 

Also, be adaptable to weather changes and have a plan for indoor cycling or alternative activities to help you remain active even when outdoor conditions are unfavourable. 

8. Start commuting by bike 

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Starting to commute by bike offers several advantages that can significantly contribute to sticking to your New Year's resolution fitness routine. Commuting by bike is an efficient way to integrate physical activity into your daily schedule, providing a consistent exercise routine that doesn't require additional time commitments. 

You also save money while reducing your carbon footprint so the multifaceted benefits make it more likely that you'll stick to your commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

9. Track your progress

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It's difficult to keep up a New Year's resolution if you don't see immediate results so tracking your progress is an essential component of a successful fitness regime.  Making progress towards your goal is great for your motivation and there are many different ways to measure how far you've come including apps for your smartphone. 

You could download Strava which you can not only record and analyse your workouts but also gain insights into your performance through metrics including distance, speed and elevation gain. It also showcases personal records which I find to be a motivating feature. 

10. Reward yourself 

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Despite being on a New Year health kick, it's important to not be too hard on yourself and still reward yourself for achieving your goals. Incorporating rewards can be a powerful motivator and a means of acknowledging your hard work. This could be a post-ride treat, new accessory or a planned rest day to recharge. 

What are your tips for staying motivated? Let us know in the comments section below...

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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