Sometimes, even with the best intentions, it’s hard to find motivation to go out and ride. We’ve all been there. So what strategies do coaches, psychologists, athletes and BikeRadar readers use to get out that door and on that bike?
It could be that you’ve had a setback such as an injury, and it’s disheartening that you’re not where you once were. It could be that you’re just getting started or trying something new, and progress is frustratingly slow.
And let’s not forget that training plan slump, when the bed feels so comfortable and the weather isn’t particularly inviting.
One — or even all — of the following suggestions might be enough to get you into your kit and riding.
1. Find a cause
Signing up to a charity ride (fancy dress optional!) can provide a huge amount of motivation
Dr Josephine Perry, a chartered sport psychologist from Performance in Mind suggests signing up for a charity event.
“The strongest motivation I have seen within athletes is when they are doing something for a great cause, especially when that cause really means something to them. An athlete who is doing a sportive to raise money for a charity that has helped a family member will be incredibly motivated to train and complete it.”
So, if you are feeling low on motivation, find an event or reason for riding that feels bigger than yourself.
2. Leave yourself motivating cues
Ben Plenge is a coach and runs The Strength Factory in Bristol, and he suggests posting little reminders to yourself about what’s motivating you to train.
“You can remind yourself of what motivates you with little cues around the house or office. Try a sticky note with ‘Megavalanche’ or ‘Ard Rock Enduro’ on it to remind yourself why you are putting in the hard work.”
3. ‘Trick’ yourself into it
One Facebook commentor, Katty Skardon, suggests giving yourself options to go further if the mood takes you.
“I say to myself ‘I’ll just do a short ride as something is better than nothing’, then once I’m out more often than not I get into it and end up being out for longer.
“So choose a route you can add a few extra miles on if the mood takes you and if it doesn’t then at least you got out. Short rides will still keep you ticking over during the winter and you’ll be ready for when the weather improves.”
4. Give yourself something to aim for
@SallysLifeCycle on Twitter says: “Book an event or create a challenge to give you a goal to aim for. Seems to work a treat for me!!!”
While coach Alan Milway from MX Fitness says: “The ‘WHY’ behind a training session or ride should be at the forefront of your mind. A wet, cold ride on its own holds little attraction, but when it is considered as part of the bigger picture and the goal — they‘why’ am I doing this, it suddenly becomes more manageable.”
Adele Mitchell got in touch via Facebook and to tell us her approach: “In the winter, if riding feels like a slog, I like to think of how grateful I will be in the summer when all the winter riding has made me super fit so that I can ride for as long as I like!”
5. Remember how far you’ve already come
On Twitter, @simonmtb2015 likes to “think back to when I first began cycling 3 yrs ago – a 1 mile ride with some hills would nearly kill me and was no fun. It makes me realise how far my fitness has come and how easy it is to lose it. Winter miles = summer smiles.”
6. Train with friends (or family)
Riding with friends or family can be a great motivator
Alan Milway also suggests training “with others and plan to meet people at set times on set days. Most people will keep to a training session or exercise class if they have planned to do it with someone else. The social aspect is also key and makes it all much more fun when there is a challenge to the session.
Another Facebook commentor, Katherine Compton says she will “arrange to ride with friends, the kind that won’t allow you to back out when they know you’ve had a bit of time with no motivation.”
Karla Kostka on Facebook says: “My daughters are [sic] main motivation to ride more. They love being on their bikes at 5 years old, 4 years old and already at 16 months old. How can [sic] resist your baby getting her helmet out and shouting ‘Bi!’ (bike)?!”
7. Chart your recovery
BikeRadar reader and contributor Jennifer Purcell got in touch via Facebook to tell us that she is “coming back from a bit of an injury. My motivation is the small progress steps I can make. I’ve been keeping a daily diary of what I’ve been able to do. Being able to chart some improvement, no matter how small, is what motivates me to get out. It shows I am getting better!
Alan Milway’s advice from MX Fitness is: “When it comes to injury, it can feel as though you are isolated, missing out and a long way from being back at your best. Looking at professionals who have been through similar injuries can be very motivating as they are often very driven to work hard to recover quickly. These examples can drive adherence to physio, rehab and training and will make a big difference in the long run!”
Ben Plenge has some tips too: “The key here is to keep active and fit even when injured. This will benefit your mind as well as your body in these dark times! Broken wrist? Sit on a spin bike. Injured knee? No legs rowing. Can’t mountain bike? Ride on the road — and never lose sight of the fact that you love riding or racing and want to get back!”
8. Preparation is key
Don’t leave everything to the last moment, get organised and you’ll have fewer excuses for backing out.
Rose May, via Facebook says: “If I’ve got an early start, I get my kit ready so I can just pull it on half asleep! I force myself to get my kit on in autodrive, then once it’s on I think I might as well go out.”
While Elaine Scott got in touch on Facebook to say: “My motivation after a day at work when I can’t be bothered is that amazing feel I get at the top of a hill or after a ride and I always lay out my cycling gear before I go to work so I can be ready and out on my within 15 minutes.”
Get some cross-training in to mix things up and keep them interesting
9. Try cross training
Mix things up and try other sports and exercise to support your riding.
“Roadie? Buy a new MTB bike! And vice a versa,” says Eric Haughland on Facebook.
10. Make cycling part of everyday life
Greg Seeney on Facebook suggests that you “use the bike when you pop into town or to the shops, just in your normal clothes. No faff, no expectation, just out on the bike!”
11. Don’t dwell on the past
Comparing rides to what you’ve achieved in the past can be hard to avoid, especially with a lot of us using sites such as Strava, but Clare McNally suggests on Facebook: “I like to see Mondays as optimistic Mondays. It’s a new week anything can happen. Instead of worrying about what you may have/have not achieved in the past week I like to look to [sic] new one as a fresh one with no hang ups.”
If in doubt, remember just how much fun cycling is National Archives
12. Get inspired
If you’re still struggling to get motivated, Julie Mulvanny on Facebook says that she’ll “watch some MTB videos and then you can’t wait to get out regardless of weather! Also, going trail hunting for new trails in different areas gets me excited.”
So, get out and ride…
The common thread with all of these suggestions is finding a way to get started with a particular ride or training session. Once that initial inertia is overcome, the chances are that you’re going to start feeling great again when those endorphins flood your system.
As BikeRadar reader Jonathan Howe commented on Facebook: “remember that the hardest step you take is the one out of the door.”