As a husband to an energetic health coach and entrepreneur, father of two young girls, an employee of a US software company that demands a lot of travel (I’ve been to the US five times this year), a founding member of Bike Chaser and a keen amateur cyclist, I quite often get asked “how do you fit it all in”?
There’s no denying it, there have been moments in recent times where I’ve felt like crying in the fetal position, but overall, I keep a pretty calm head. To me there is no doubt that my bike riding plays a big role in keeping my stress levels down and my mind clear. In order to allow myself plenty of “meditation time”, I have implemented a number of strategies that allow me to stay true to the cycling beast.
Here are my six ways to keep it real:
Be around like-minded people – there’s nothing worse than having a training partner, or a group of friends who are full of excuses. If you want to stay motivated you need people who inspire you rather than bring you down. Training with friends or like-minded people who you can draw inspiration from; who will call you up on a rainy day and say “come on mate, who cares, let’s go do it” makes a world of difference. That’s the type of energy that motivates and inspires. Find that breed of cyclist and stay as close to them as you possibly can. As a personal example, I have recently joined the HurtBox training group, which has increased my levels of motivation more than I had ever imagined. Getting up and riding into a hail storm is no longer an issue as everyone else in the group is doing the same!
No excuses – Don’t get me wrong, when I’ve had four hours’ sleep from being up with an infant, or getting over my fifth bout of gastro in four years, there are certainly a few excuses flying around, but overall, I try and keep a lid on it. No one cares if you’ve been too busy to train and you’re out of form. Or, “I’ve been traveling so I’m too tired and I can’t get on the trainer”. Ultimately, if you give yourself an out by telling yourself excuses, you’ll live by that mantra. I got inspired by an Olympic weight lifter many years ago who was a stay at home dad. He had two young boys, so the way he used to keep the training up was by doing pushups, chin-ups and squats in-between kicking the ball to his kids, or whatever it might be. His philosophy was “I’ve got 30secs here, 1min there etc during my day, so why not make the use of the time”. That’s smart commitment!
Structure your training – I used to ride the local bunch rides for training or just go out and ride the bike without any thought. Putting structure behind your training, say through a cycle coaching company like the HurtBox, will change your view on each and every ride you do. Any ride becomes as important as the next, with each session’s sole focus being on improving your overall ability. If you know that missing a ride is going to negatively impact your overall training plan (and end result), it helps you develop that little voice leaning over your shoulder to keep those excuses at bay.
Actions speak louder than words – I’ve always been a big believer in doing something and letting others see, as opposed to telling someone you’re going to do something. People draw inspiration from and respect someone who just gets on with the job – so be that person!
Use your friends and family as a way to commit – if you’ve decided you’re going to be a doer and not a sayer, there’s still no reason why you can’t tell others what you want to achieve to fuel your motivation. Just like in this blog post series, I am telling everyone that I want to be a top level A grade cyclist. After making that mental commitment to people around me, I am more so than ever inspired to train hard and get results. You all know what I want to achieve now – imagine if I don’t quite get there. My commitment to this goal and exposing it has given me the motivation to work hard for it, driving me to find time to train when most would not.
Be fair and set expectations (especially for all those mums and dads out there) – We all have busy lifestyles and sacrifices need to be made if we are to focus on our cycling. For me, cycling has also become my social time, meaning I’m able to kill two birds with one stone. When I’m off the bike, say over a weekend, I spend time with my wife and my two girls. My wife has time to do her thing too, of course, and we both work as a unit. I expose her to my schedule and we work around it, with some give and take here and there. As long as you’re being fair to everyone’s needs, there should not be a reason to stop cycling which I know many young parents do.
There you have it: my six ingredients to keep you on your bike and a smile on your face from ear to ear. If cycling is a passion for you, as it is for me, being structured and meticulous with your time should enable you to never lose sight of your love for cycling.
Is there anything you do differently? We’d love to hear about some of your strategies below.