We’ve all fallen for it: New Year’s resolutions set with grand dreams of better fitness, faster climbs, longer training weeks and epic accomplishments — only to have the post-holidays and winter weather (and all the pressure that resolution-making brings) derail our just-laid plans.
“Start early, but don’t go big.”
The problem isn’t the setting of the goals but rather the timing of it all. Don’t wait until January 1. Now is the ideal time of year to get started. The philosophy is that if you change your routine in advance of the busyness, you’ll create sustainable habits that will carry you through the winter and into the next riding season.
Start early, but don’t go big: Pick something manageable now to make a small tweak to your normal routine.
A SIMPLE PLAN ON THE BIKE
Let’s say you are a road cyclist and you want to do better in next year’s races — or perhaps do your first race. Start riding daily before January 1 (indoors or out), but start slow and well below what you think you can do. If you want to be doing 10 hours a week by the spring races, start with a 90 minutes a week of riding, total. That is about 12–15 minutes a day, or a couple of shorter rides spread during the week. Hold that commitment and routine through the holidays, and you’ll find that adding to that very manageable commitment after the holidays — and after a month of consistent, dedicated practice — is no problem.
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
Now, you might be doubting the benefit of something like a daily 10-minute spin on your indoor trainer. However, for many people, frequency is an important component of fitness. Once we become more advanced, the intensity and volume (amount of time) will grow, but for newer cyclists and those wanting to maintain their feel for the bike, the frequency is hugely beneficial from a fitness standpoint. Also, establishing a daily routine and building a feel for the bike into your muscle memory help to make this a habit. Then, turning that daily commitment into 30 minutes or an hour will be another seemingly easy or natural boost to your routine.
This same strategy applies to those wanting to improve their hill climbing strength or any other skill. Keep it simple — no bike required — and spend 10 minutes each morning working on lunges, step-ups and squats. Do a few sets without weight each day for a week, and then add more reps and/or weight the next week. Do that for a month or two, and you will be surprised by how much your work capacity changes with a simple 10–minute routine.
GET THAT HEAD START
In the end, it’s about timing and remembering that it takes at least two weeks to make a habit. Whatever your goal for next season, commit to acting on your resolution now and take small steps toward your goal. Think of it as building blocks so that when January 1 comes along, you’re well into your resolution because you got that head start.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT TRAINING SESSION: