Stuck in a bit of a cycling rut? Whether you’ve been training hard for an event and you’ve lost the joy, or you’re struggling to stick to a routine and get started in the first place. All of us go through phases of feeling unmotivated or uninspired to get out and ride from time to time. But how do you pull yourself out of that rut and get your mojo back? We’ve got some top tips to help you find your ‘get up and go’, rediscover the joy and get back in the saddle.
Start by asking yourself ‘why?’
The first step to getting back on track and enjoying your cycling adventures again is asking yourself why you’re feeling demotivated in the first place.
‘Why’ is a question we could all do with asking ourselves more often. We can be so focused on keeping all the plates spinning, keeping that metaphorical hamster wheel turning and acting like human ‘doings’ instead of human ‘beings’ that we forget to take a pause every now and then to look at what we’re doing, and importantly why we’re doing it. Chances are there are multiple factors at play here – but if you can get down to the real heart of why you’re struggling with motivation, that knowledge will give you the building blocks to start clambering out of the rut you’ve tumbled into.
Have you been training hard for an event and the pressure has sucked the joy out of training? Or, on the flip side, are you lacking a goal and inspiration to spur you into action? Maybe life is super busy right now, and so you’re stuck waiting for that elusive ‘perfect time’ to get started to materialise (spoiler alert: there’s never a perfect time). Have an honest, but kind, conversation with yourself to really work out what’s going on.
Depending on the answer, some of the tips below might not apply – but hopefully there’ll be something that resonates so we can help you to get back out there, doing more of what you love! Of course, it goes without saying, sometimes life gets hectic and you just need to take some time to prioritise other things. And that’s ok! Your bike will be waiting for you when you’re ready, and you can come right back here to pick up our tips where you left off.
CHOOSE YOUR TIPS:
I’ve been training hard and now I need help to stay motivated and keep the joy
I’m struggling to get out the door and I need help getting into a routine
Training hard: Four top tips to relieve the pressure, keep the joy and stay motivated
Flip your mindset
When you’re training hard for a race or an event, ticking off the sessions can start to feel like a burden and a chore. You can lose sight of the fact that you wanted to do this. You chose to sign up for that event because it excited you or challenged you in some way. Holding onto that spark of excitement will help to keep you motivated.
Language is powerful, so when you’re thinking or talking about your training regime try flipping ‘I should do this training session’ to ‘I could do this training session’. Change ‘I have to ride XYZ miles today’ to ‘I get to ride XYZ miles today’. It’s a really small thing, but it’s always valuable to remind ourselves that training is an opportunity – it’s something we get to go and do. We have this chance to challenge ourselves and see what we can achieve. And that’s pretty cool!
Take the pressure off
First things first: stop beating yourself up for feeling demotivated. Nobody feels 100% motivated, 100% of the time. If you put energy into feeling guilty about the fact that you don’t spring out of bed at 5am every single day completely pumped to hit the saddle, you’re just going to make yourself feel worse. Accept your feelings, and they’ll have way less power over you. Everyone comes down with a case of the ‘can’t be bothereds’ from time to time.
Next, take the pressure off. Every ride doesn’t have to be a killer workout or a breakthrough session. Putting those expectations on your shoulders will just suck the joy out of cycling. Even if you have an event coming up, trust us when we say that if you’re riding happy you’ll perform better! So give yourself the freedom to ditch the data and leave the pressure at home. Take a bit of time and space to just get out there and ride for fun. Don’t worry about how far or how fast you’re going. Don’t think about how you ‘should’ be performing. Be in the moment and remind yourself why you loved cycling so much in the first. When you’re ready, getting yourself back into that positive headspace will help you to hit those key sessions feeling stronger than ever.
Switch up your routine
Eat, train, work, sleep, repeat. Sound familiar? When you’re in the thick of a training block, sometimes mental fatigue – boredom – can be the root source of your motivation disappearing. Doing the same sessions, riding the same loops… ugh. Time to mix things up and get yourself feeling excited about training again! Hit Komoot to find a new route so you can rediscover the joy that comes with exploring. Enter a small, local race or sportive just for fun. Find a new café stop to check out – because nothing says ‘motivation’ like the promise of sampling a bit of coffee and cake. Swap road riding for off-road (or vice versa). Switch one of your bike sessions for a swim or a run. Freshening up your routine with something new or different creates a buzz, and you’ll be amazed by how much just a few small changes can boost your motivation.
Take a break
OK, so you’ve tried all the above and you’re still struggling to enjoy your training. This might be a sign that it’s time to hit that pause button and give yourself a break. A long term loss of motivation can be a sign that you’re overtraining and on the road to burn out. Stop forcing yourself to keep going and allow yourself the time you need to recover – physically and mentally. Taking a break can feel scary, particularly if you tend to be wired towards perpetual motion. But try to trust the process. It might only take a few days, or maybe it’ll be a few weeks. Give yourself this time, let your body guide you and know that once you’re ready you’ll find yourself wanting to get out there again. And that’s what it’s all about! Doing what you love, and loving what you do.
Getting started: How to kickstart your motivation and get into a solid routine
Small but manageable steps: commit to getting started
‘Motivation follows action’. Instead of “I’ll start when I’m feeling motivated”, it’s time to accept that actually – you’ll feel motivated once you get started. Waiting for motivation to come to you, or holding out for the elusive ‘right time’ to start will leave you stuck in limbo. There will always be things going on and reasons not to get started. Sometimes you’ve got to commit to just taking one small, manageable step and the rest will fall into place.
It can be tempting to go with the mission impossible approach here: boldly stating that you’re going to completely overhaul everything, ride twice a day every day and live solely off green juice and activated almonds (seriously, what even are they!?) while you’re at it. The trouble is, this approach just gives you this momentous, overwhelming task to face. It’s scary, it’s overpowering… and it gives you a really good reason to continue putting off getting started. How many times have you promised yourself that you’ll start on Monday? And then Monday comes around and you haven’t got the energy, so then it’s next Monday… or maybe the Monday after that. Hello limbo, my old friend.
Start now, but start small. A manageable little nibble, rather than a great big oesophagus blocking chomp. Make a plan for the next week: how many times are you going to ride, and how far? Alright, now take that plan and scale it back by about 10%. Now you’ve got something that should feel achievable. Commit to following through on your plan. Accept that you might not want to do it initially when it’s time to head out the door. But once you get out there 9 times out of 10 you’re going to get a lovely hit of endorphins and a great big dose of the feel goods, because A) you’re out on your bike, remembering why you bought it in the first place. And B) there’s nothing like ticking off something on your to-do list to make you feel good!
It’s tough and it takes discipline. But once you take action, your thoughts and your feelings will follow suit. Create a manageable routine, commit to sticking to it and soon it will become a habit.
Set yourself a goal with a deadline
A lack of motivation often comes from a lack of anything specific to work towards. A vague notion of ‘getting back into riding’ isn’t going to get you out the door. But having something tangible on the horizon to aim for – something that excites you – is a great way to kick yourself into action. Again, going back to the mission impossible thing, this doesn’t have to be something wild that’ll just put far too much pressure on your shoulders. It can be as simple as entering a local event that you think will be fun and that you’ll need to get a bit of riding in to complete. Making your own adventure, and planning a long explore with your Herd. Deciding to check out one of Cycling UK’s bikepacking routes (click here for some bikepacking tips!)
Whatever it is, just make sure you have a clear date in the diary so you know what you’re working towards.
There’s no place for comparison
This is particularly key if you’re getting back into cycling after a bit of time off the bike: comparing your fitness and your abilities right now to where you used to be is just going to cast a negative shadow over every ride. These comparisons won’t change anything, so just let them go. Focus on where you are right now, commit to the journey and you’ll be back to full fitness soon enough.
The same goes for comparing yourself with other people. Let it go! It doesn’t matter. So what if you’re at the back of the group ride? First one to the café stop buys the coffees anyway, right? All the more reason to hang back if you ask us! In all seriousness, if anyone is anything but supportive while you’re just getting started (or just getting back into riding) – maybe you just haven’t found your Herd yet. Speaking of which…
Find your Herd
The cycling community is full of friendly, passionate and supportive people who will genuinely want to help you to get out and ride more. Whether it’s heading down to your local club ride, seeking out a riding buddy or even just having someone you can chat to about your adventures online – find your Herd and you’ll also find a brilliant source of motivation and accountability.
Check out the Stolen Goat Herd Facebook group and the VeloVixen women’s cycling chat Facebook group where you’ll find a wonderful bunch of likeminded people for advice, tips, inspiration and general bike chat.
Treat yourself to a spot of #NewKitDay joy!
There’s nothing like having some awesome kit to show off to get you out the door. When you’ve got kit that keeps you comfortable – whatever the weather – and makes you feel good, it’s that much easier to enjoy the ride. We’ve recently added some fresh styles to our Spring and Summer collections so take a look and see what takes your fancy!
MORE TRAINING TIPS
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Five tips for improving your swimming
A beginner’s guide to getting into running
Top tips for your first triathlon