How to stay motivated in winter
Staying motivated in winter can be tricky. We asked a Mental Performance Coach for his advice.
The temptation to stay in bed a little longer during the winter is huge. It’s dark, it’s often freezing outside and what’s better than a cuppa while you wait for the sun to come up? Staying motivated to ride over the winter takes more effort than other times of the year.
We don’t want you to park your bike up for three months of the year or more, so we asked Canyon’s Business and Mental Performance Coach, Ralf Bonaventura for his advice when it comes to keeping the wheels turning.
1. Find out why you’re unmotivated
It’s easy to blame external factors for our low motivation, however there could be something going on within ourselves. Ralf explains: “We have to ask ourselves honestly: what exactly is currently preventing you from getting on your bike? Humans are good at inventing excuses of the best quality and in sufficient numbers.”
Why do you think you’re less motivated in winter than other times of the year? How could you work with these issues?
Ralf also advises turning problems into challenges. “What do you get out of riding your bike?” he asks. “Mental strength that you gain from winter riding will not only help you in training. Give yourself an "overcoming bonus" if it helps. Maybe a warm bath, a cold beer or another little something is often enough. Make a reward list,” he suggests.
2. Take some time out
There is no shame in having a break. Just like flowers, you can’t always be in bloom and this is evident when we see our athletes’ training programmes too. Rest weeks and off-seasons are part of the package.
Whether you’re physically or mentally tired (or both!) going into winter, take a step back to reflect on what you’ve achieved or look back on the many great rides you’ve done in the previous months. It’s during this time that you can figure out what you want to do and where you want to go next year.
3. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail
Getting out the door or on to the turbo trainer is much easier if you plan the night before or a few hours before your session. “The best way to avoid excuses is to be well-prepared,” explains Ralf. “Plan for alternatives if things don't go as planned and find someone with whom you can train together.”
If you’re a regular to indoor cycling training using Zwift or other interactive apps, line up your favourite playlists to get you through your session and set your bike up, so that all you need to do is jump on the bike.
4. Invest in good cycling kit
On the subject of preparation, you should consider kit. Keeping warm and staying comfortable are two very important goals in winter and the best way to do this is by wearing high quality kit. Our winter clothing guide is your bible for figuring out the best bits of kit to invest in ahead of the cold months. When you know you’ll be warm, you’ll be more inclined to get out the door and into the fresh winter air.
5. Have a goal for the year ahead
Knowing you have an event on the horizon is usually good enough motivation to get you out the door. Nobody ever achieved a goal without first doing their homework and the same can be said for events or rides you want to do in the upcoming months.
It doesn’t have to be an epic goal or round the world bike ride. Smaller and achievable goals help you feel a regular sense of accomplishment. Riding a new trail without stopping, exploring somewhere new by bike or cycling up a climb you’ve never done before are all great ideas.
If you do fancy your chances at achieving something a little more lofty, you could try setting yourself a goal to ride a certain number of kilometres in a year, cleaning up on your local Strava KOMs/QOMs or even winning a race.
6. Try another cycling discipline
If you tend to ride road bikes in the summer, you might want to try something a little different when the conditions become less than ideal.
Cyclocross consists of short, fast and fun races between October and February and will help you stay fit over the winter. You’ll see riders like Mathieu van der Poel leaving his Aeroad to one side and instead jumping on his Inflite - literally! Look up your local cyclocross league and get involved - there are races for every category and age group and it’s a fun day out.
Mountain biking is also popular in winter because it doesn’t take you long to get a good workout during the shorter and often wetter days. When you ride a mountain bike, the chances are you’re also away from traffic and you’re in the company of good people. Head out to your favourite bike park or trail centre with your friends for the day.
Track cycling is another discipline of cycling that is popular during the winter. Most velodromes offer taster sessions and coaching at every level. Track racing leagues also run through the winter if you want to test your skill on the boards.
7. Add new training techniques
Variety is the spice of life and you can build your fitness with more than just a bike. Adding strength and conditioning sessions to your training will help fix muscle imbalances and your susceptibility to injury.
It’s also a chance to try something you’ve never done before, which is as exciting as it is a steep learning curve. A change is as good as a rest, as they say.
8. Find a cycling buddy
Riding with someone else is always good for motivation. If you know someone else is waiting for you at a meeting point, you’ll be more inclined to get up and get out.
Whether you’re commuting or trying to get out at the weekend, a cycling buddy can help switch your mindset and help you actually look forward to getting out in the cold weather.
Use winter wisely
There’s no point stressing yourself out over a few weeks of low motivation. We’re human and we all need a break. Trust in the process whether that’s a training plan with a few low volume weeks or simply enjoying other things in life before you jump back in the saddle.