Staying motivated in cycling
There are a number of different reasons why people cycle bikes: for fitness, competition or for fun. Whatever your reason and how much you initially enjoy riding your bike, there will be times when you lose motivation and interest in riding a bike. There could be all sorts of reasons, but fortunately there are also a number of different ways that you can stay motivated and rekindle the enjoyment that you had when you first started serious bike riding.
Stay motivated and rekindle the enjoyment that you had when you first started serious bike riding
If you are suffering from a short-term loss of motivation, for example a period of bad weather is putting you off riding, then think of the positives you will lose by not riding - your hard-earned fitness and the skill gains you have made in the previous and weeks and months will begin to decline.
Inertia is a very appropriate word. If you have cycling in your weekly routine you can make time for it on a regular basis. If you let the cycling slip for a few weeks (perhaps due to the bad weather) and you don't do any other alternative exercise you will firstly find it more difficult to make time to fit in the exercise again because you are 'out of the habit' and secondly, the exercise will feel so muh more difficult because of your lack of fitness.
Rewards and goals setting
Goals give purpose and motivation to get out and train to achieve the desired result. This may be a one-hundred-mile ride, participating in a big event or competition, or a personal target, such as losing weight or riding a local hill without stopping.
Cycling © Maksym Protsenko
Promise yourself rewards. For example, if you manage to ride 10 hours during the week, you can have that really nice pudding on Sunday. Or if you beat your personal best time on a local course, you can buy those new shoes or some other piece of equipment you've been hankering after.
The key factor in maintaining motivation is variation, like the saying 'a change is as good as a rest'. No matter how much you initially enjoy a ride, if you repeat this over and over you will become bored and lose interest.
- Vary the duration of the ride: some days try to ride a bit longer or if time is short fit in a quick ride or perhaps 30 minutes on a turbo trainer instead.
- Change the pace of the ride or parts of the ride: you could attack some of the hills and ride them really fast, or sprint for some signposts.
- Ride at different times of day: rides in the morning and evening can feel very different.
- Vary the route, include new roads, new hills, reverse rides and new views, explore turns you've never beene down before. You could drive out or take a train to ride in a different area, or go on a cycling holiday. A week in the Alps will remind you how enjoyable cycling is and will give you motivation to keep riding and keep fit for your trip.
- If you ride alone, find someone else to ride with, perhaps with a club or some friends. As well as the social aspect you can motivate each other. If you always meet at a certain time you have a commitment to help keep you motivated.
- Ride to somewhere, such as, a café, a pub or a friend's house. If you have a purpose then you will have motivation.
Lack of motivation is a good indicator of over-training, in which case a good rest might be your tonic
- Try a different aspect of cycling. Road riders could try mountain biking (it would help their bike handling, but they needn't worry about average speeds), mountain bikers might try road racing or time trialling - to improve their speed and not batter their bodies so much, or try touring and just ride for pleasure instead of having to ride at particular intensities for training all the time.
- If you are bored with cycling then incorporate some cross training, such as swimming or running, or look at sports which incorporate cycling, such as triathlon or adventure racing.
If you are feeling tired and lacking motivation you may be overdoing things. Lack of motivation is a good indicator of over-training, in which case a good rest might be your tonic (See Training section). You can also overdo things if you combine other stresses with physical exercise. For example, if you are very busy or working long hours you may be better off not riding too far or to doing very intense training during that period.