Feeling the Fitness Monday Blues?

It is around this point in January that many people fall off their fitness plans. Their New Year's Resolutions to really kick it up a notch this year, and make an effort to "Cat-Up" in cycling (move up an ability category for racing), suddenly begin to wane...

A couple of weeks ago it was easy to get up a bit earlier and get that workout done first thing in the morning... But that bed feels so warm and soft in the early morning... After work, whew! It was a really long day and that couch, that TV show just seems so much easier to fall back to...

Well, I recently read a tidy little article over on Millet Sports, that inspired me to write something a little more specific to cycling. Annabel Clark gives five points to motivate you in Beating The January Fitness Blues. Here's my take for cyclists:

1. Never Give Up!

Small set-backs will always happen to any fitness plan. Just because you've missed a workout - maybe it was two - is no reason to despair and ditch your whole plan for the year. You've got ambitions! You can easily get back on track! Grab a sheet of paper and in really big letters write, "Never Give Up!" Tape it near where you keep your bike. Hell, tape it to your bathroom mirror if you think you need to...

2. Keep Your Targets Small

You may have a big riding goal later in the season. It may not be to Cat-Up. It may be a charity ride like one of the MS Tours. Maybe you've caught the granfondo bug. But you haven't registered for anything yet this summer. Do it this week.

And then remember, those kinds of goals are so far off at this point, they're easy to put out of your mind. But you'll be so much better prepared if you keep training from today straight through to those summer goals.

To keep going now, though, you must look backwards from the big goals and see the little things you'll need to do along the way that will add up to success down the road. Right now, it's enough to get on your bike maybe four times each week. Make that your goal. Tell a few friends that's what you plan to do this week. When you hit Friday, meet up at your local pub or bar and buy them all a round of drinks to celebrate - but remind yourself not to over-indulge. You're in training after all!

3. Training Partners Help You Share the Responsibility

With a training partner, you know if you ditch your workout you'll be letting them down too. Together you've signed up for those spin classes. Together you've committed to hitting the gym for a little resistance training. You'll be expecting each other to show up. Your partner needs someone to spot for them, and keep an eye on the form they use for lifting weights. Partnerships like these really help you keep committed to your training programs.

And when the winter finally turns to spring, and the roads clear up, make sure you've joined a bike club. Their weekly rides will really keep you on track for those summer goals.

4. Try Something New

I mentioned spin classes. But you haven't tried those yet? Well, there are at least two ways to go about it. Your local fitness centre likely has scheduled and drop-in spin classes. Try a drop-in and then commit to signing up for a scheduled class.

Many local bike shops also run spin classes through the winter. You bring your own bike and trainer to the shop, set it up, and everyone all rides together. For many people that's a better way to hit the trainer a few times each week instead of staring at your basement wall plugged into your i-device...

Cross training works well too. As cyclists we train within a pretty limited range of motion. Once a week I take a tennis lesson. Not because I'm trying to become a really good tennis player, but because I like the dynamic workout it gives me, and it makes me think differently than a cyclist. Maybe you could try badminton?

Still looking for a way to build your endurance, but don't want to spend all your time on an indoor trainer? Try trail running. Try snowshoeing. Try cross country skiing. I've done them all to supplement my long rides. Start a longer session with an hour or two of snowshoeing, and finish with a half-hour of spinning on your trainer.

A strong core gives you a really stable platform for your legs to press against. Sign up for a yoga class, which will help strengthen your abs and back, and keep you feeling flexible. And feeling flexible means feeling good - isn't that what all of these fitness plans are about anyway?

5. Grab Some New Gear

So this is shopping therapy. But it works too. And I'll give you a really good reason to go shopping now - besides the sales you may find during the off-season...

It is best to start using new equipment in the off season so you can get fully used to it before your big ride events are just days away. This is especially important for any of your "contact points" - pedals, shoes, shorts, saddles, handlebars, complete bikes!

You want to try electronic shifting this year? Get it now. You'll find a new reason to hop on that trainer because it feels so cool to switch gears with the simple press of a button!

But ultimately, I'm going to take you right back to the first point in this series. It doesn't matter where you are right now in your career, in your relationships, in your life. If you are truly going after anything that is really important to you - you... just... have to... never give up!


  1. Boredom of routine is really public enemy number 1 when developing the discipline to be consistent with you fitness routine. You should try different fitness programs out to keep everything fresh. That way it would be easier to be motivated.

    1. Good point Kurt.

      Actually, one of the keys to a good cycling training program is periodization. We keep things fresh by basically never doing the same workout 2 days in a row. And every 3 to 6 weeks a typical training week will change yet again.

      With Periodization, throughout the entire training year we change the emphasis on the different building blocks of cycling fitness - strength, basic endurance, speed, muscular endurance, power, and anaerobic endurance.

      At least for me and my coaching clients, this is how we keep everything fresh and the motivation stays high.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Great article Kevin! I have to agree with what Kurt and you wrote above, routine boredom isn't fun so changing your training schedule every few weeks is important to prevent that.