To follow on from the post – Cycling every day. Making it a habit. I made it through January and into February without missing a day out on my bike. Just under 1000 miles for the first month of 2015. Sticking to the core habits of going to bed before 11pm, getting up before 6am and straight out to do the loop.
There’s been the odd few days when I have deviated from this. A ride from Dover to Chatham, a 150km audax and working away from home for a couple of days.
I’ve also had a few late nights and more than a few broken sleeps along the way. Mornings when I’ve not leapt out of bed as enthusiastically as others. Some rides have been a bit of a slog to get into. There’s been times when I’ve been a lot slower than my average. All of these could have broken my resolve to ride every day.
Thinking about what has kept me going so far. I’ve come up with a number of factors which I think have helped. Here’s five that come to mind.
It means something to me to do this. There is an intrinsic value in it. I have found that exercise is a gateway habit. If I exercise regularly it turns out that I also eat better; I don’t smoke or drink; I look after myself more all round. Reliability goes up. Things get done. Deadlines get met. I ain’t getting any younger. These things matter to me.
Enjoying the process. Tracking the mileage and routes on the map. It’s a bit of a game. It’s not a competition. That would take away from the enjoyment. Comparison is the thief of joy so said Teddy Roosevelt. I think he was right. With the exception of comparing myself with myself. This I’ve found fulfilling, educative and a good motivator.
Limiting my goals. Focussing on the short-term and achievable. Riding every day is the immediate aim. One target for the year – 10,000 miles – as something to aspire for. Elevation and speed are no more than a consequence of getting out regularly on the bike. Steady progress towards 10K is what I’m seeking to achieve.
Focussing on minor victories. On arriving back at home following each ride I upload the rides to Strava and synch it up on VeloViewer. Just looking at the routes, the mileage adding up and seeing the day-to-day progress being made gives me a real boost. An audax ticked off. Another leg of the North Sea Route completed. Pulling the belt round an extra notch or two. These things get me buzzing and enthuse me.
Anticipating difficulties and planning ahead. Going to bed before 11pm; mapping a route; cleaning and lubing the chain; having my cycling clothes ready; eating properly; taking a basic tool kit and puncture repair kit; and managing my calendar. All little things that make a big difference. Perhaps most importantly of all is keeping up with family commitments and taking notice of their needs. I’m indulging myself to some extent. If their feeling neglected, sooner or later that will stop me dead in my tracks.
So far it’s working. To be honest though I’ve not met many difficulties this month. No injuries. No major mechanicals. The weather’s not been atrocious. I’ve been fortunate so far. It’s not the externals that most often get me though. I’ve got through all kinds of tough circumstances in the past. It’s cliché but I do thrive in adversity. It’s self sabotage and plateauing out that are my biggest pitfalls. No doubt those two demons will show their heads at some point in spring. Just when some of the best days to ride in are upon us.
I do a lot of reading about the mechanics of habits. In case you missed it I also love cycling. If you can offer any tips or just want to share what works for you on either of these topics I’d be very pleased to read them. Just add your comments and views in the box below.