By Jeffrey Stern
Rain, snow, sleet, hail, sub-zero temperatures…who could ever find the motivation to train in such conditions? It’s not only difficult but downright impossible to stay motivated when the winter months roll around and stick around, and the weather is, quite plainly, garbage for cycling outdoors. With the majority of states across the country in the heart of winter, planning and executing workouts or even just getting out of your pajamas and out the door is like getting an angry cat into the veterinarian’s office. Good luck with that.
We do have a little bit of luck to throw on your side in the form of the three best winter motivation tips you can find on the interwebs. Ok, maybe there are other ones, but these have been tested and are tried and true to turn even the slightest inclination of motivation into a full-blooming winter, training rose. As February drags on, keep these in mind and keep on going, because spring is just around the corner!
1. Make a training schedule and stick to it.
Treat it like having a doctor or dentist appointment that you know you can’t miss or else your body, and therefore health, will fail you. Create whatever form of calendar works best for you; a flip one, the summer inspiring monthly pictorial kind, an old-fashioned handwritten kind on graph paper, on your phone, computer, a scratch piece of paper…you get the picture. Just make one! And make it at least a week in advance. If you have it written down somewhere, you’re much more likely to follow through despite the harsh conditions outside.
2. Keep it short and sweet.
Daylight is of the essence during winter, so don’t try to slog through hours of training in the dark and cold. Your body and mind will hate you for that. Instead, opt for quick, more intense workouts that get your heart rate up in a short amount of time and then get you back inside. Make sure to warm-up before going all out, but try to keep it simple and not overly complicated. Our brains tend to have trouble thinking clearly when the mercury drops, so 60-90 minutes is plenty of time to get a solid workout in even when you can’t feel your fingers and toes.
3. Dress properly.
Even if you’re only going out for a short amount of time, you want to be as comfortable as possible. Don’t skimp on the clothing just because you’re not going to be outside for hours on end. You’re likely to start a little chilly, but if outfitted in the right kind of gear for your current weather conditions, your body will start to produce heat rapidly and your clothing will keep you insulated from the cold. This will lead to a enjoyable hour or so spent working out; you won’t go home in a frozen frustrated state, but happy you got the job done and excited for whatever you have lined up for the rest of the day.
And most importantly, believe in yourself. Winter is a challenging time for all cyclists, no matter your skill level or goals for the upcoming spring and summer seasons. Take the chance to embrace the challenge and fear of working out when it’s cold outside. Fear is oftentimes life’s biggest opponent; overcome your fear to get solid workouts in during the winter and once the snow thaws and the temperatures start to rise, you’ll be primed to take advantage of all that hard earned fitness you achieved when most people were too intimidated to even get a foot out the door.
Ayesha McGowan is on a mission to become the first female African-American professional road cyclist. Now, she invites you to join her virtual ride series, Do Better Together, to set goals and train alongside her in 2017.
The ride series kicks off in February, and participants have a 10-day window each month to complete their goal. Rides are tracked via Strava, where participants can use the “Do Better Together” group to encourage and support each other.
Anyone who participates in at least 4 of the 6 rides is also eligible to win a Cannondale bike.
Find out more on her website, http://www.aquickbrownfox.com/do-better-together/.
By Nicole Duke. Photo by Nils Nilsen/N2Photoservices
We all have a choice—What speed would you like to live your life? Tackle the obstacle or revel in the moment? As a professional cyclist and just all around bike lover, I’ve learned a lot about speed throughout my life and career. When I was younger and a downhill mountain bike racer on the World Cup and national circuit, it was all about how fast I could do everything, without regard for one very important rule: sometimes, you have to go slower to go faster.
As my cycling life and career have progressed, fast seems to be less of a concern for me. I’ve learned that speed—used correctly in the precise moment needed—is the key to enjoyment and success. I was riding just the other day on something I like to call my soul loop. I’ve done it with friends, by myself, in shape, out of shape, slow and sometimes just flat-out, soul-crushingly fast. It’s been awhile since I’ve done this loop alone and without agenda of pace. I’m just starting to train again, so my legs are just warming up.
This loop takes a little over two hours and has over 4,300 feet of vertical gain, mostly on gravel, with breathtaking views. On this day, I left all judgement behind; the pace was slow, many views were absorbed, pictures were taken, and a smile stayed on my face. Later, I noticed my time on the loop—even with all my departures from pushing the pedals—was only six minutes off my normal pace, and I received so much more enjoyment from the ride than I had in years.
Conversely, the rest of my day moved at a much more productive pace than usual after a hard ride like this. Maximum speed is not always best; find your flow and your rhythm and it will lead to more beauty and grace on and off the bike. This is a lesson for me every day now. I’ve managed to fine-tune this on the bike but need to transfer more of this awareness in everyday life. The bike can be such a great life giver and source of self-awareness.
When do I choose fast to go faster? It’s when most of us want to grab the brakes and our minds scream, “Danger, danger! Must slow down!” Most of us have a survival gene, thank God, that tries to keep us intact. Our first reaction to rough terrain is to freeze and grab the brakes. This is where most of us need to hit the override button. Speed is now your friend.
Sometimes you want to embrace the peaks and valleys, but not this time. You want to skim effortlessly across the tops, avoid the deep holes and bumpy crags. The only way to manage this is to trust yourself, the laws of nature; just let go and relax. Like a river flowing over rocks, this is what speed allows: smooth transition. Speed is now your friend! Speed is also about timing and approach. You must learn its subtleties, when to use it and how. Much like life it’s a balance, an ebb and flow. I’ve used speed throughout my life on the bike and in sports to actually find my limits, to feel my primal instincts, to arouse excitement. At one point everything had to be fast, or else I felt like I wasn’t living. Now, life comes to me more in those times of slow and delicate approach. Speed is beginning to leave my ego. I will use it for the moments needed with fire and grace, and dismiss it when it cries and begs my ego to rear its ugly head.
Yes, sometimes I want to skim across the top of life. I don’t want to feel every bump, but more and more, I want to feel, absorb and appreciate the stillness and beauty in my ride and in life. Speed is all in the approach.
This piece originally appeared in Bicycle Times Issue #35. Support your favorite independent cycling magazine by ordering a subscription today.Tweet Print