It’s not uncommon for both new and experienced cyclists to find themselves stuck in a rut with their training. More often than not, the root of the problem is a cycling training plan that doesn’t have enough variety to keep it fun and interesting.
When cycling training lacks variety, both motivation and fitness suffer. Here are 4 simple steps you can take to inject some life back into your cycling and prevent you from stagnating with your improvement.
1. Mix up the intensity
One of the most important cycling training variables that you can manipulate is intensity, i.e. how hard you’re riding.
Many cyclists fall into the trap of training at a middle intensity, where training is neither very hard nor very easy. This results in a training plan that doesn’t stress you enough to promote large fitness improvements, but also isn’t easy enough to allow you to rest sufficiently.
The ratios of stress and recovery, which are the fundamentals of generating fitness, are then out of balance. Once this happens, it’s easy to stop improving and get frustrated with your training.
Try to alternate how intensively you ride from workout to workout. Introduce some harder rides, some easier rides or at least a few rides with harder portions into your plan.
2. Ride different distances
A second reason your cycling training might not be as fun as it once was is that you’ve stopped challenging yourself in terms of distance.
In the beginning, riding for miles and miles at a time is really difficult and each long ride you do sets a new milestone and offers tangible progress. Once you reach a certain level of fitness though, it’s easy to get complacent.
Try adding some longer rides to your training that occasionally push your endurance abilities. It won’t be long before you find that sense of achievement you might have been lacking come flooding back.
Remember to be conservative with your mileage increases to ensure you avoid getting injured or mentally burnt out.
3. Do your cycling training with friends
Riding on your own has a lot of benefits and offers the chance for some serenity and thinking-time. However, there’s also many perks to riding with others, whether that’s with a local club or just a few friends.
Firstly, having a group of riding buddies will keep you accountable. This means you’ll have extra motivation to get out the door when you might otherwise be feeling lethargic.
Secondly, the time and miles will tick by far quicker if you’re sharing the experience with someone else and having a bit of a chat along the way. For certain training sessions, like your endurance training for instance, you’ll benefit from going a little slower in favour of longer duration, so use this sociable atmosphere to your advantage.
4. Try different disciplines
Finally, as much as you might enjoy one particular discipline of cycling, it can get tiresome and lose its appeal if done too often. A good way to liven things up is to try out a different type of cycling.
If you’re a road cyclist, why not get on your mountain bike and go explore some local forests and trails? Likewise, if you’re a mountain biker primarily, consider entering some cyclocross races to challenge yourself
in different ways.
Exploring the many types of cycling will give you a greater appreciation for the sport as a whole. What’s more, you’ll pick up tips and skills that can transfer back to your key discipline, meaning you’re cycling game
will only get stronger as a result.
How do you get yourself out of a motivational rut and add variety to your cycling? Be sure to let us know your tips in the comments box below.
About Tom Bell
Tom is an elite-level professional cyclist from the UK, specialising in cross-country mountain bike racing.
In addition to an international racing schedule, Tom also coaches athletes and creates content to help other cyclists and mountain bikers improve their training and race performances. This includes everything from podcasting, to YouTube videos and blog posts.
Tom’s athletic goals for the year include a podium finish at the UK National Championships, to represent Team GB at the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships, and to have a strong performance in the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup.
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