11 tips to stay motivated through winter

How to drag yourself out of bed and keep riding through winter

Winter training

Riding your bike in the winter months is hard. It can be cold, wet, windy — often all three at once — and that’s before you factor in having to occasionally ride in the dark. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

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Training throughout the winter is a great way to keep your base fitness ticking over, while also preparing you for next spring and summer and any exciting goals you’re looking to achieve on two wheels. What’s more, getting outdoors and stay active through winter is good for the soul.

Here are ten ways to stay motivated through the winter, to help you through those moments when it can seem easier to stay in bed…

Have a goal

“The main thing for anyone is having a goal,” explains Matt Bottrill of Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching. “You’ve got to have a motivation. It could be something that’s happened to your family, your health, lose weight. Whatever that is, you need that goal. 

“If you’ve got that in place, every time you do a training session you’ve got a reason for doing it – you’re not just going through the motions. You then feel good about it because that stepping stone is working towards your big goal.”

Have the right kit

Heading out into the cold is made a lot easier if you’ve got the right winter gear in your wardrobe. It can be hard to get motivated if you’re imagining the next few hours to be as cold as sitting in a fridge, and staying in bed is going to be a lot more attractive.

Investing in foul-weather kit, whether that’s a good winter jacket or a pair of overshoes, will turn a training ride from unbearable into enjoyable, and will have you jumping out of bed and onto your bike

Two cyclists riding on a winter's day
Buddy up to stay motivated through winter.
Immediate Media

Buddy up

Struggling to get motivated to head out on your own? Find another rider who is keen to get some winter training in and buddy up instead of trying to tackle the elements solo.

Not only will it make the miles whizz by as you chat away between cafe stops, but it’s a lot harder to not go for a ride when you’ve got someone stood on your doorstep all kitted up and ready to go.

Join the club run

If you don’t have any local friends who are up for a bit of winter training or your cycling mates are now in hibernation until the spring, then it might be an idea to join a club run.

Many cycling clubs run a range of rides at the weekend that vary in pace, while some offer early morning pre-work sessions in the week for the extra keen.

Try something new

Even if you consider yourself a road cyclist, that doesn’t mean you have to live and die by the sword of tarmac. Winter is a great time to try off-road pursuits that will not only help with your training, but could also be beneficial to your overall riding technique, too.

For those who want to stay on a drop bar bike, the high intensity and technical nature of cyclocross will keep your fitness up while improving your bike handling skills, while mountain biking is a fun way of sharpening up your riding.

Equally, if you’re a mountain biker looking to improve your endurance, could you be tempted out onto the road this winter? Maybe even the turbo trainer could be your friend…

cyclists riding gravel bikes through moorland
Mix things up by trying a new discipline this winter.
Mick Kirkman

Join the Rapha Festive 500

Is your winter training just not, well, challenging enough? Try your hand at the Rapha Festive 500

The Strava challenge has become a legendary way for road cyclists to up the endurance (and test the patience of family members) over the festive period, with participants set the task of riding 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Train inside

Whisper it, but it is possible to train over the winter period without subjecting yourself to the harsh conditions that come with it. Even swapping one outdoor ride per week for an indoor one can revitalise your training plan and help keep you motivated.

Plus, the likes of HIIT or sweetspot training are actually more time-efficient when done on an indoor bike, so there’s one more reason to train inside this winter.

Book a training camp

If you need a carrot to work towards when slogging it out through winter, there’s nothing better than a few days in the sun.

There’s a reason why professional cyclists head to southern Europe in winter and spring — superb roads and (fingers crossed) great weather.

Why not book a training camp or riding holiday in Mallorca, Andalucia or Tenerife? You’ll have something to train for, then.

Cyclists on a training camp in Tenerife
What better way to motivate yourself than the prospect of a few days riding in the sun?
Russell Burton/Immediate Media

Listen to music

If you do opt to train inside this winter, there are things that can soon start to irritate you during a session – most notably the lack of visual stimulation that you get when out on the road. But there are ways of overcoming this.

“I always listen to music,” says Bottrill. “I listen to dance music and I love the rhythm of it. I match my pedal stroke to the beat of the music. You can break it down to phases, so ‘this song is four minutes, I’ll listen to two songs and then I’ll look at the time’. It’s a great way of zoning out.”

Give Zwift a go

Another way of livening up your indoor workout is to use a virtual training platform, such as Zwift. It can turn your training ride into the closest thing to heading out on the road, without leaving the house.

You’ll have the virtual world to keep you occupied, while it’s also possible to join a group ride, complete structured workouts or embark on a fully-fledged training plan.

Remember to reward yourself

It’s all very well having goals and motivating yourself to train throughout the winter months, but you need to enjoy the rewards, too.

“You need to reward yourself,” he says. “It will make you want to achieve it more.”

So whether that’s an extra slice of cake at the cafe stop, or a new bit of kit in the new year, don’t forget to treat yourself along the way.

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