Set realistic goals, and cycling fitness will follow
I’m not the best person to talk about staying in shape this winter. I face the same challenges as many Alaskans living in Southcentral: the lack of snow and slippery trails don’t inspire me to get out. But it’s not just that. I’m in the midst of a graduate degree program that leads to more chair time than saddle time. The result is that I’m out of shape and have been low on motivation.
That’s the cycle of inactivity. It leads us to feel less like being active just as expending energy leads to want to get out to do more. But as November wound down, I had already recommitted to physical fitness, knowing the impact it has not only on my body but also on my mind. Here are tips for getting and staying in shape no matter the weather.
Set a goal
Are you planning a mountain bike trip with friends or a cycle tour overseas? Or are you setting your sights on a long-distance ride here in the state? Setting a goal and building toward it is a great way to start. Some people will work with a trainer on setting and evaluating goals. You can also find resources online.
Commit to a friend
Promise you will meet to ride; schedule times in advance; and meet those commitments. If you own a fat tire bicycle, getting out for a ride in fresh snow is a great way to keep in shape and enjoy the outdoors. I never know whom I’ll run into on the trails and I always enjoy riding with friends. If we have a decent dump of snow, I like to mix up my regimen with a snowshoe hike or ski on the trails in Far North Bicentennial Park or in Chugach State Park.
Have alternatives ready
You have a ride scheduled for Saturday morning but don’t want to pedal around the Campbell Tract at 10 below? I keep a road bike set up on my stationary trainer so that it’s ready to go all winter. Maybe your friends will want to join you by hauling their bikes and trainers to your garage. There’s nothing like sweating indoors with a group of friends when it’s below zero!
Additional indoor activities that help me keep fit for the bike include core exercises like Pilates and yoga. Adding yoga stretches to my days has improved my flexibility – which can reduce injuries – and helped strengthen my back. All of these together — core, stretching and cardio — combine to prepare me for a season of long rides. Remember to start off by being easy on yourself. Break up big goals with smaller monthly and weekly goals so you don’t injure yourself, burn out or get bored.
And remember, if you skip a few days, it’s not the end of your fitness. Your body needs rest days. Allow a break, and then get back on the bike.