06 January 2012

How to Stay Motivated

For best results, take one twice daily.
Image source: Campus Cycles
Looking to keep your Resolve to Ride More in 2012? According to Peter Bregman, believing motivation is the problem is your first mistake.

After all, you already love to bike. You enjoy harnessing your power to propel forward though time, space and air; the sense of community it brings; the quiet time to decompress on the ride home at the end of the day. Most likely you readily admit to family members and co-workers that you actually enjoy exercising.  The feeling of your lungs expanding going up a climb; of going hard and pushing your heart rate into the next zone; the dull ache in your legs the next morning after a really hard effort that serves as a physical reminder you did something enjoyable and worthwhile. The problem isn't really motivation, Bregman explains. It's follow-through.

Author Ellee Thalheimer finds epic places to ride, like this road in Hells Canyon, to stay motivated.
Practice follow-through by choosing a bike tour of your own in her upcoming book,
Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Oregon
Relaying his friend Byron's dilemma, he comments: "Each attempt to 'motivate' himself will only increase his stress and guilt as it widens the gap between his motivation and his follow-through, between how badly he wants to work out and his failure to do so. We have a misconception that if we only cared enough about something, we would do something about it. But that's not true.

"Motivation is in the mind; follow-through is in the practice. Motivation is conceptual; follow-through is practical. In fact, the solution to a motivation problem is the exact opposite of the solution to a follow through problem. The mind is essential to motivation. But with follow through, it's the mind that gets in the way.

So with that in mind, how do we commit to following through with our intentions to ride, train, race, tour, or commute by bike more this year? Here's a few of Bregman's suggestions--put into bike terms--to get you rolling:
Create an environment that supports your workout goals. Have your [cycling] clothes sitting by your bed and put them on first thing when you wake up. In fact, [ride] first thing, before your mind realizes what you're doing. 
• Use a trainer or commit to work out with a friend. It's harder to argue against your accountability to another person. 
• Decide when and where you're going to [ride] — literally write it in your calendar — and the likelihood of follow-through will increase dramatically. 
Commit to a concrete plan that is simple to quantify: 45 minutes of movement a day, cut out sugar, [ride any bike in your stable] six days a week. 
• Realize that the follow-through challenge will only last a few seconds. As soon as you put your [cleats] on and start heading to [the trailhead or your favorite stretch of road], your mind will give up arguing with you. 
Discipline will be useful for the first week as you get back into working out. But after that, momentum will take over and the pleasure of feeling more fit will quiet the internal chatter.
Still stuck in a rut?  Grab your favorite riding buddies and plan a bike trip somewhere epic, such as the Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab, Utah. 

Readers: what tools or techniques do you use to keep on task and following through with your riding and fitness goals?  Post your comments below and let us know!


Patty said...

Because of the hours I work, commuting isn't practical. However, after I get home in afternoon I basically park the car and jump on the bike. I plan my route according to any errands I have, or if there are rummage sales in the area. Of course, I can't lug home a curio cabinet, but that's not a bad thing. I find that having a practical purpose for riding gets me on the bike, and then anything goes!

Linda J. said...

Usually I work out with others on indoor rides but that schedule has been disrupted during the holidays. I want to try the one about putting it on my calendar, and putting the cycling clothes on first thing in the am. My work hours are too long & home too far for winter commuting. Thanks for the ideas!

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