Our lives are busy; whether it’s fitting it in around work, family or still having a social life, or all of the above. We’re expected to do a lot and, needless to say, it can be difficult to fit in time for getting out on the bike. So instead of staying sat there dreaming of getting back in the saddle follow these tips for getting the most out of your day, so that dreaming can become a reality.
Become a morning person
Getting up to train early can be hard – but people who ‘get it done’ before work are more likely to stick to exercise routines as a lot can get in the way of that after work session.
Find getting up hard? Let me introduce you to the wondrous little invention called the Lumie light. Although sceptical of the claims at first my mornings have now become much easier with the introduction of this alarm clock. It simulates the sunrise so will gradually get lighter and lighter until it reaches your set time. The days of groping for the alarm clock and forcing yourself to reach for the light switch are gone because it’s already light in your room. It leaves you feeling awake and ready for the day, making early mornings less stressful.
Commute by Bike
This isn’t always practical for everybody but if you can cycle to work, then take advantage of it. It is a fantastic feeling rolling up to face the day, having had some of your daily exercise already, feeling awake and refreshed – even more so when bleary eyed co-workers rock up looking drained. Plus you get the added benefit of sunrises, feeling productive and you can now eat what you want.
Here's my own commute...
Use your lunch hour
Have an hour for lunch? Great. Use it! Have your kit to hand, a route in mind and bike in the car. You’ll be motivated by the need to get back within the hour to kick butt on the bike, making it a very useful time to train. If you don’t have an hour, keep the legs moving with a short body weight routine, yoga or simply going for a walk.
If you have flexibility, take 90 minutes for lunch and finish late or start early. That'll allow you a good hour long ride, and mean you're actually more alert and productive all afternoon anyway. Yes, you'll work a little later as a result, but when you finish work you can relax, instead of wasting your lunch hour browsing cat videos at your desk in the knowledge you have to set up the turbo that evening.
Prepare everything the night before
It takes 10 minutes to prepare for the next day. Commuters: put everything you’ll need back into your backpack or panniers. Charge your bike lights, check your bike is ready. If you’re training indoors in the morning ensure the turbo or rollers are ready to go with a drink and fan in place. Either prepare breakfast or lay out the ingredients ready for the morning and hang your clothes out. This means come the morning you can just grab your stuff and go.
So when morning comes in all its groggy glory you can just get yourself on the bike - inside or our - trusting past you to have thought of everything you’ll need for the day ahead.
Limit time on social media
Do you ever find yourself absentmindedly flicking through Facebook or Twitter? Before you know it an hour has disappeared because you’ve been looking at cat videos. That hour could’ve been used to get outside. This goes for first thing in the morning, in your lunch hour (you probably spend most of your day looking at screens, so have a break), or when you get home from work. If you don’t look at it, you’ll have a huge amount more time to spend on cycling.
Use a diary
Old school, I know. However, with phones bearing the brunt of our busy schedules now it is easy to miss something. You also have to open a million apps (and remember to open the apps in the first place) to get to all this organised stuff in the first place. It’s just easier to write it down in one place in a book that will be with you wherever you go. You can mark in your daily jobs and priorities, include your meal plan, training and make lists of everything you need to do and it’s all in one place. Plus, it’s satisfying to cross jobs out.
Know what sort of ride you're doing, and why
If you're training for a specific event or discipline, it's important to know what sort of session you're going to do and why. One of the biggest barriers to effective training is procrastination.
Ideally, you'll devise a year long training plan that breaks your annual cycle into 'pre-season', 'peak season' and 'off-season' chunks. You can then assign goals to each of these periods, then each week settle down and work out which sessions you will do to suit those goals and when.
Have each session or ride jotted out, as well as a clear idea in your mind exactly why you're doing it. If your goal is not race focused but is more centred around totting up the miles and increasing fitness, this still applies - write down how many miles or how long you'll cycle for each day - making sure there are longer days to increase your endurance and short days to give you time to recover.
Maximise your time with HIIT
If you're really struggling to find more time to ride, then perhaps you need to look at shorter workouts that maximise the minutes you do have available.
To get stronger, you need to stress your body and then recover. HIIT or 'High Intensity Interval Training' sessions are generally very short and include intervals where you'll work very hard, before recovering and hitting it again. These short bursts will really push your bodies boundaries and help improve your power and fitness.
Most gyms will run HITT circuits or classes, and spinning classes are generally focused around a sub one hour session with lots of sweat. You can even check out Tabata - which is all about getting your fitness hit in over the course of four minutes.
Get on top of nutrition
To ride well, you need to be well fuelled. So just as you’d plan your training, plan your eating with a weekly schedule. Plan meals according to what you’re doing – so a nice warming casserole after a long ride in the cold or a protein loaded meal after the gym. By writing a plan you’ll know what you’re having each day, reducing the time you spend staring at the contents of your cupboards. You can create a shopping list each week too, so you don’t need to keep popping out.
Batch cooking will also save you time – cook up meals like tuna pasta or lasagne on Sunday night and freeze them in portions to lock in freshness. That way you can concentrate on your ride, safe in the knowledge dinner is sorted.
It’s also a good idea to keep a record of your favourite quick cook recipes. This list is a collection of recipes you’ve used and loved in the past that require minimal effort and time to prepare, compiled into a folder or box. That way if things don’t go to plan and you don’t manage to plan or batch cook, you’ve got a fallback.
With a little planning and dedication, you can fit your cycling goals into your life. For more tips and tricks, check out: