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The clock is ticking towards my longest bike ride ever on 16th July – the 178km Etape du Tour in the French Alps. For this blog I thought I would talk about motivation.
As a full time athlete I often got asked about how I stayed motivated, but the answer was relatively simple. I was training for the Olympics, the biggest sporting competition in the World, and I was completely focused on winning a gold medal. Of course there were bad days, but in general the huge goal of the Olympics always got me out of bed and on my bike.
In my retirement, however, motivation is very different. I am now exercising for health and need to maintain motivation during a busy lifestyle where it is so easy to put things off til tomorrow, or next week, or next month. So here are some of my top tips for how I am keeping motivated.
My goal is to complete the Etape in July. This is keeping me motivated to go out on my bike as there is an event coming up. A solid goal with a date is far better to work towards than a general goal like “I want to get fitter”. Set an actual target to either complete a challenge or an event in a certain time and this will help keep you motivated. A countdown app on my phone is a daily reminder of how many days to go until the challenge!
Keep track of your fitness progress. A simple spreadsheet of how many km or hours you have trained each week is a great way to examine what you are doing. If you want to go a step further a fitness test will give you even more data to see if your training is on track. I use my Wattbike for short, sharp sessions where I can measure my power output and see how I am getting on.
Arranging to ride with someone else will help get you out the door. This has been a good one for me in retirement. As a full time rider when I trained at home I didn’t live anywhere near my teammates so most of my rides were solo, but now I’ve enjoyed arranging to meet up with others and that commitment to meet someone else is very useful to get me up and out!
I have recently completed the British Cycling Ride Leadership Award which is a training course about leading groups on road rides. I did this in conjunction with British Cycling’s Breeze programme so I am now a fully qualified ride leader and Breeze Champion!
As a full time rider I didn’t visit cafes very often. Training was mainly about hitting the numbers and then I would be keen to get home and rest up ahead of the next session. It wasn’t café stops weren’t allowed, just that for me they weren’t a priority. Now I am enjoying looking up new cafes and planning rides along new routes to get there. I do enjoy a nice cake so the reward for the ride is the café at the destination. There was even a ride a couple of weeks ago that included a pub lunch!
Until my retirement, I hadn’t ridden my mountain bike since I was a junior. Now I’ve dusted it down and started exploring my area off road. This is a great challenge for me as my off road skills were particularly rusty. But the variety of riding a different bikes on new tracks has kept me interested. I’m now considering a cyclo-cross bike for rides including both on and off road which brings me onto the equation n+1. The correct number of bikes to own is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. Who’d have thought this would still apply in retirement?!
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