Training should be fun – let’s see how we can help ourselves
Everyone must start somewhere with training, and let’s face it, it’s never quite as enjoyable when you’re building the base fitness. It can also be less enjoyable, if you’re training hard for a race, slugging through the intervals that make your eyes pop and belly grumble.
But don’t fret, you can make training fun in various ways, right? Otherwise, how do we continue hammering the pedals.
Let’s take a step back, why did you get into cycling – think about it hard and remember the times you’ve had on the bike that were enjoyable. It’s likely not that you don’t enjoy it anymore, you’re just not enjoying it currently.
My top tips to enjoyable bike-days
Firstly, have your goals set in your mind, why are you doing this and what does it mean. If you’re training because you enjoy being fit and strong, remember that when your body is telling you to have a few days of other kinds of enjoyments, it really won’t harm.
I’d always say, if you’re in a ‘serious’ training phase and having a rough time with it, step away from it. You won’t gain as much from it as you would a clear head. Text your pals, get them signed up for a café ride (cake is good for the soul) and enjoy yourself, a few non-structured rides won’t harm. Don’t burn yourself out.
Blimey, jump on your off-road bike, add a bar bag and a picnic, and go exploring – there is nothing quite like exploring off-road. If you have a coach, just let them know, or… do the damage and ask for forgiveness instead of permission, it works every time.
When you venture on your soulful rides, ditch your GPS and data, it’s not worth getting in your own head. Or, put the maps screen on and do not touch those shiny little buttons, tempting you into more darkness. I love a ride with no data – not all of the time, but if my head isn’t in the game, I really don’t gain much from doing eye-popping, gut-wrenching training. On these rides, you could even practice a new skill – only if it’s safe to do so. Practice one leg pedalling, no hands or bunny hopping – an extra dose of free endorphins when you nail it.
Riding somewhere new can also be a massive relief, living in a city can often make cycling tedious and unenjoyable when you get stuck in a mental rut. There is absolutely no harm in sticking your bike in the car or on the train and doing a scenic ride in the countryside and avoiding all the city traffic. Or if you’re just bored of home roads, pack up and spend a lovely weekend camping with your bike, all snuggled in your tent.
You could always treat yourself to a cheeky project, you might have a box full of spare, random parts laying around and an old frame. Use them wisely and just get stuck in with fiddling and building up the frame – it doesn’t have to be ‘pristine’ or the fanciest bike build, it can be a miss-match project. It’s just great fun! Or, maybe you want to teach yourself how to build a bike with all of the spare parts laying around…
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Always try and plan your training rides, in such a way that won’t cause you more stress. If you have intervals and you know you can’t get them done on the roads – due to traffic etc, then jump on the turbo, yes, the dreaded turbo. However, the turbo will allow you to get the hard stuff done and dusted. Also, you can literally crawl to your fridge for sugary reboots.
You could ride with a friend who is a similar level or stronger than you. This will allow you to have a training partner for specific rides – potentially even interval days. Never doubt the wealth of endorphins from riding with a buddy.
Jump on a chain-gang ride, chat with your coach and try to find a way to add in your local group ride, every week, if possible, as it’ll give you something to look forward too and if not, then once or twice a month will do.
Have a think about your favourite kind of terrain – if you love climbing, try and plan a climb into your routes, likewise if you prefer flat. Although, you will have to venture to some climbs, because it’s important you know how to climb, feeling the bike and pedal stroke, if you’re racing.
Don’t compare yourself to those around you, what they’re doing in training, what their numbers are or how they ride a bike – in a way, it’s all irrelevant. You could have world tour numbers, but if you can’t race a race with your head or technical skill, you’re more unlikely to win. Tried and tested, with a t-shirt to prove it.
Turbo training is boring… very few people will deny you that, but you can make it more interesting.
Sign up for an indoor training app, it becomes a game and allows you to ride with other people.
Watch something on TV while riding – the TdF, Netflix or a movie, anything to pass the time.
A fan is imperative, make sure you have a fan – or say hello to your sweaty gremlins, bursting at the seams.
Check your goals, know why’re you’re training indoors and not out. Are you heat training – perfectly feasible on the sweaty turbo or is it to avoid traffic, people or you just can’t be bothered to deal with the outside world. Remind yourself of these reasons when you start to have a sense of humour failure.
Structured workouts really help on the turbo, and depending on which app you use i.e. Zwift, they provide lots of plans to choose from.
You could train in a group or while on zoom to some fellow friends, who are also suffering – who doesn’t love the sound of your friends gasping for extra watts…
Treat yourself after the session – that scrumptious cake you didn’t get, for lack of café stop, make sure it’s waiting in your fridge.
There are plenty of ways to make training more interesting and fun, you just must find what works for you, what motivates you to push harder and achieve your true greatness. Before you know it, you’ll be back to enjoying your riding, bobbing along wanting more.
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Inspired to get back out on the bike after a few weeks of miserable summer weather? We certainly are, Thanks Dannie! Don’t forget, Yellow Jersey provide a specialist bicycle insurance policy which is designed to cover your bicycle for crash damage, accidental damage, liability cover and theft anywhere in the world whilst training and racing. For more information, please visit our website or give our friendly support staff a call on 0333 003 0046.