This is what my mind/body sometimes says in the winter when I am looking at my gorgeous road bike sitting on the trainer.
OK, let’s be real. I am not even looking at it. I am nowhere near that sucker. I am sitting on my couch in the living room where it is warm and cozy. I am under a bunch of blankets. Our four-year-old has either gone to bed for the night, or if it is the weekend, he is napping. If you have ever had a four-year-old you KNOW that this is the only time of day that is actually quiet. Blissful, peaceful quiet.
Side note: yes, our four-year-old still naps. It’s heaven. It’s glorious. Don’t be jealous! And trust me, he makes up for it when he’s awake.
Anyway, if there is a time to lay around, do nothing, this sure feels like it!
The reality is though, despite all of this, that bike and trainer are in the basement completely out of sight, but luckily not completely out of mind.
There is somewhere, deep inside, a part of me…a little voice…that is whispering, “Stacy! Remember your goals! You won’t be riding 100 miles at 15 mph this year with 2500 feet of climbing if you don’t put down your phone, stop scrolling through mindless stuff, and GET OFF THE DARN COUCH!”
What I am trying to say here is… I get it. I hear you. There are times when I am excited for my workouts! Where I have had a stressful day and can’t wait to just pedal all that stress away.
But there are other times (if I am truly honest with you, MANY other times) where I am quite content to sit around, snack, have a cup of tea, etc.
There are even times when I am thinking, “Hrm. That laundry truly needs to be folded. I mean come on now. It’s piling up. That sounds a whole lot easier and more appealing than the workout I have planned.”
In fact, I really should be riding RIGHT NOW. So how do I convince myself to actually do it when I am in full-on avoidance mode?
In this article I will share with you my real-life tips. These are the exact things I do to get up, get on my bike, and not prioritize literally everything and everyone else over my workouts.
Here’s a brief overview of the 9 Awesome Tips:
Tip #1: Have a REALISTIC Plan. Know in advance which workout you are scheduled to complete.
Tip #2: Make Sure You Have Fueled Your Body for your Indoor Cycling Workout. No Food + No Energy = No Fun
Tip #3: Put On Your Workout Clothes: Commit to this and only this at first.
Tip #4: Visualize yourself after the workout. How good will it feel to have it DONE?
Tip #5: Reward yourself DURING the workout: Listen to a special playlist or watch a show!
Tip #6: Reward yourself AFTER the workout: Have something special that you will only allow yourself once your workout is complete.
Tip #7: Remember Your Cycling Goals! Remember why are you even doing this in the first place.
Tip #8: Tell someone you plan to cycle today: Telling someone you are going to work out today is a surefire way of getting it done.
Tip #9: Be freaking POSITIVE with yourself: You absolutely CAN do this!
So come on! Let’s do this! Trust me, I have been there. I am an excuse girl, and I will come up with allll the excuses in the world to avoid leaving the couch, but I know that if you put these tips in action you will be on your way to fantastic INDOOR CYCLING MOTIVATION!
Below I address each of my awesome indoor cycling motivation tips in a little more detail.
Let’s dive in!
Tip #1: Have a REALISTIC Plan.
You need to know what you are doing each day.
Know IN ADVANCE which workout you scheduled to complete.
Not just some vague idea or thought along the lines of “I should ride my bike today” because honestly? It’s not going to happen. And if it does? It will likely be some scaled back version of what you really need to complete to achieve your cycling goals.
Every great workout success starts with a plan, a schedule, to keep you on track. The trick is to build in strength training, rest days, active rest days, yoga/stretching days so that you don’t burn out, you get the rest you need, and you are PUMPED to tackle those workouts that require a little bit more time and energy.
This is why I say to be realistic. I tried an indoor cycling workout plan last year that was legitimately too hard for me. It was the one time in my life my body gave out before my mind did and it was AWFUL.
You need to find that line between pushing yourself hard enough and not pushing so hard that it sucks and you give up.
Tip #2: Make Sure You Have Fueled Your Body for your Indoor Cycling Workout
No food + No Energy = No Fun and a MUCH HARDER WORKOUT than it needs to be. If you have ever been in the midst of a really hard workout and just don’t have the energy to go further, to keep up, to give it your all, one of the reasons why you might be struggling is that you didn’t eat enough leading up to your workout.
I have a little secret here for you. Well, it’s not really much of a secret. YOU NEED CARBS.
They are your fuel. Carbs are a female cyclist’s best friend. I remember meeting with a friend who has been cycling for a very long time. She races, she’s amazing, she’s awesome. When I was struggling to complete my indoor workouts last year the first thing she said was “You need to eat. You need to eat carbs.”
And don’t take her word for it, or mine, Dr. Stacy Sims (exercise physiologist and nutrition scientists who studies female athletes) says the absolute same thing in her book, ROAR (affiliate link). This book is amazing and I firmly believe every woman should read it. But I digress.
Low carb diets can make cycling workouts incredibly difficult. I am not saying you should load up on pure sugar pre-workout, but a little bit of peanut butter on some crackers can go a long way to giving you the strength you need to complete the ride. If it’s an especially challenging ride I always make sure that I eat AND hydrate properly the entire day leading up to it so that I am not trying to play “catch up” with my body.
I also love these 5-minute protein peanut butter energy bites from Ambitious Kitchen. They are so easy to make, and so delicious. I make a double batch and put them in the fridge and eat them for either breakfast, an after work snack, a pre-workout snack, or all three!
For more information on fueling your cycling workouts, be sure to check out my article on what women should eat before cycling workouts!
Tip #3: Put On Your Workout Clothes
Just tell yourself you’re going to get into the clothes.
Don’t even think about the workout that’s coming. Say “ahhh well this way I will be ready if I do decide to motivate!” Or even “I look and feel super fancy in my workout clothes!” Baby steps, right?
I cannot tell you how many times I have tricked myself into working out just by putting on my workout clothes.
It’s kind of ridiculous, actually, but committing to putting on the clothes is a whole lot easier for me than committing to doing the workout.
And once you have the clothes on? I am telling you. It becomes second nature to just do the workout. You got dressed for crying out loud. I don’t know why that’s half the battle, but sometimes it just is!
And if you put on cycling shorts? In the winter? You’re NOT going to be warm. You will be itching to get on your bike so you’re no longer FREEZING!
I will admit there was at least one time that I simply fell asleep on the couch in my workout clothes WITHOUT WORKING OUT. Oops. But that’s not the norm, I promise you. Once I have the clothes on I just find it so much easier to jump on the bike, the elliptical, pick up the weights…whatever I have scheduled for the day.
Also going along with this…if you have the funds buy yourself something snazzy to wear while you work out! If you really like your workout clothes or your cycling shorts you will be that much more excited about putting them on and talking yourself into that workout.
Tip #4: Visualize yourself after the workout.
OK, I know. Stick with me here. Seriously.
“Stacy, I am not meditating, I am not visualizing, or any other type of wooo woo crap you are trying to throw my way. I just want to ride my bike!”
I know! I get it! It can be weird (especially if you aren’t into meditation or visualization or anything), but honestly if you think about how good you are going to feel when you are done, it’s a HUGE motivator. And well worth it, even if it feels a bit strange.
The trick is to be specific. Think about how you will feel knowing it’s behind you. That you have taken that small step to bring you that much closer to your goal.
Think about how GOOD that recovery drink/post workout smoothie is going to taste. How awesome relaxing in the shower will be. Let yourself feel it! And speaking of rewards and things that feel good…
Tip #5: Reward yourself DURING the workout.
This is where you make a plan to listen to a special playlist or watch a show during your workout. Whatever works for you! I personally do one or the other depending on the workout. If it’s a really hard workout I feel like music is a must. The faster paced, the better. I have a pretty tough 30 minute Zwift workout I do (Emily’s Mix if you’re interested!) and fast music definitely helps me get through. 90s Punk. Specifically Avail.
Side Note: 1997 me would haven been ROLLING thinking that in 20 years I would be listening to Avail while riding on a trainer…though I think she would have loved me for it just a little bit.
If music isn’t really a huge motivator for you consider having a TV show that you will only let yourself watch while you are cycling indoors.
I think this is where I have to admit that I occasionally watch some pretty trashy TV. We have been looking at our monthly budget in an attempt to cut out the things we don’t really need and Chris suggested canceling Netflix until our favorite shows come out in the fall.
I could not do this. You see, I watch Outlander when I am cycling. And I only watch it while I am cycling! So it’s a motivator and something to look forward to.
Now, I think it’s worth mentioning that there are many out there who say that watching TV isn’t really a great idea when you workout. And I will 100 percent admit that I see a cadence drop at times when I am occasionally more focused on the show than I am on my indoor cycling workout.
BUT, in my not so professional opinion it’s better to watch a show while you workout than to not workout at all. It’s all a balance, friends…whatever gets you motivated to finish!
For some people the workout itself is motivation…they feel amazing while they workout!
I can say that this is often the case for outdoor cycling for me on a beautiful fall day. But indoors? Sorry. Nope. I am not that girl. I need a little something extra.
Tip #6: Reward yourself AFTER the workout
Can you tell that I am very motivated by rewards?!?!
There are so many things that you can have as a reward after a workout. My favorite thing to look forward to after a workout is my post-workout protein shake.
I make mine with 8 oz of almond milk or oat milk, 1 scoop of unflavored protein powder, and my secret ingredient…about half a tablespoon of hot cocoa mix. It adds a small bit of indulgence that I find very tasty! During the holidays I actually do half soy eggnog and half oat milk. Soooo good. No workout = no shake, so I work out!
In addition, a nice relaxing shower may be a motivator too…sometimes I even bring the shake in the shower with me! You do need to get your post-workout recovery within a 20-30 minute window after your workout, so this combo can be a great reward.
What will YOU reward yourself with? If you are food motivated (like yours truly) it can be your recovery shake or even something else a little more indulgent. You don’t want to undo all of your hard work, but a little treat here and there for a job well done is perfectly acceptable in my book!
If food rewards aren’t your thing there are several non-food related items you can enjoy, such as saving that favorite show for after every workout, or even putting a dollar in a jar/piggy bank for every workout you complete! Then use those dollars to get yourself a pedicure, a message, an outfit, something at sephora (this is a guilty indulgence of mine)…anything that would be a special treat just for you.
Tip #7: Use your goal as motivation
You need to always remember why are you even doing this in the first place.
I know that there is no way that I will be able to ride 100 miles with 2500 feet of climbing at 15 mph if I don’t actually put the time in to train for it. I need to get my body into the best condition possible to accomplish this goal.
Also in that same goal-setting post I encouraged you to really go deep into your reasons and motivation and connect with the real emotions surrounding your goals.
Don’t have a goal yet? Go get yourself one! Check out this post on setting your 2020 cycling goals. You won’t regret it!
Tip #8: Tell someone you plan to cycle today
In my post on goal-setting I encouraged you all to tell anyone who would listen about your 2020 cycling goals. You can also do this with each indoor cycling workout.
Telling someone you are going to work out today has the same impact as telling a friend your goals.
If you have an accountability partner you can let that person know what your workout plans are today. Even if you don’t, just telling someone casually, “Oh, I plan to jump on the trainer after work today,” goes a long way towards helping you actually stick to the plan.
If I am planning an indoor cycling workout and my dedication/motivation is wavering I will usually tell Chris. He is my husband, he lives with me, he is going to KNOW that I didn’t complete that workout if I don’t actually do it.
And, even if he doesn’t say anything (though he just might!) knowing that he will know I didn’t do it is enough for me to get myself down to that trainer and ride!
Tip #9: Be freaking POSITIVE with yourself
I saved this one ‘till the end because I think it’s the most important.
You need to engage in positive affirmations and you need to believe in yourself.
YOU can do this. YOUR BODY can do this. Don’t forget to tell yourself that.
If you have set a realistic training plan that pushes you to accomplish great things (but doesn’t push you over the edge) you can absolutely do this! I believe in you, and I know you believe in yourself too.
Focus on what your body can do. You don’t even need to think about what it looks like. Marvel in what you are able to actually get up and do each and every single day. It’s pretty incredible when you put it all together, isn’t it?
Finally, one additional thing that works for me is to just be thankful you actually have the ability to get on the bike. You never know when you might lose it.
I know that sounds kind of silly at first, but after I fell last year and was physically unable to ride for a week I felt this overwhelming sense of loss.
You see, I had really taken for granted how easy it had been for me to ride up until that point. That fall derailed me in a number of ways, but I am happy to say that I am now back on the bike regularly and it feels SO GOOD.
So there you have it! These are my awesome tips for getting yourself up and off the couch and onto your trainer this winter. You will feel amazing, your body will thank you, your mind will thank you, and your summer cycling self will LOVE you for making those pesky hills that much easier to tackle.
So which tip resonates with you the most? What are you going to try? What motivates YOU to cycle indoors? What makes you WANT to work out? Share with me and comment below!