New Year Resolutions: Practical tips

New year, same resolutions?

We all do it. New Year’s Day, sitting in a hungover daze, making a list of New Year’s resolutions. Does it usually look something like this?

  • Never eat cake
  • Go to the gym twice per week
  • Clean bike after every ride
  • Take a KoM on local test climb
  • Become a cat-1 racer (having never raced in your life).

By the end of January, the list is in the bin and the resolutions are long-forgotten history. Your gym membership hasn’t been used in two weeks and the cake tin is full of treats.

It may sound boring, but making your New Year Resolutions slightly less radical makes them achievable – and by achieving those resolutions, you’re setting your foot in the direction of creating life-long behaviours.

This year, try toning down your resolutions by one click of the dial, and make them realistic. When you make that resolution to ‘clean your bike after every ride,’ you probably know you’re going to fail before you’ve even started. Instead, let’s choose something you think you know you can do.

Below are our five New Year resolutions – and these are ones that we think we can keep. They’re all based on the promises we make ourselves year-in-year out, but tweaked to make them achievable.

Why not give them a try.

Only eat cake on the club run

There’s no point trying to give up cake altogether, as, well, cake’s just delicious isn’t it?! We all know never eating cake again is just not going to happen, so modify this and make it achievable.

Try only allowing yourself the treat when you’re out on a social ride and hit the café. The times you’re least likely to maintain a resolution is when the temptation is there, and when your mates are ordering that delicious chocolate cake at the café, you’re at your most likely to crumble. So allow yourself to indulge with them – after all, you’re riding and using the calories, and coffee and cake is part of the ritual of the weekend ride.

Try only allowing yourself the treat when you’re out on a social ride

But then, the rest of the time, no cake! 

Don’t have cake in the house, and tell yourself that you’ll get your cake when you go out riding that weekend. Knowing that cake is only a bike ride away makes it tolerable when you get a craving for it when you’re sat at a desk at work.

Do two core sessions per week

Don’t spend hundreds of pounds on a gym membership that you’ll only use for two weeks. If you’re working hard, training before or after work on the bike, and seeing friends and family, can you realistically commit to two or three trips to the gym per week? Doubt it.

Instead, commit to two simple sessions at home per week that take you 15-20 minutes. You can do these in front of the TV while your dinner is cooking, or before breakfast. 

Commit to two simple sessions at home per week that take you 15-20 minutes

Performing even two sessions focussing on strengthening your core will make a rapid difference to your comfort and power in the saddle, and doesn’t need any fancy equipment. You’ll notice the gains on the bike within a month, and that will give you a sense of reward, helping to ingrain the habit for the long-term.    

Never ride with a dirty chain

That resolution to clean and degrease your bike after every ride will go out the window in mid-January as soon as you get home from a frozen, filthy ride on a bleak Saturday morning. The bike will be thrown in the shed and you’ll stagger inside to warm up and find food.

That you’ll never ride with a dirty chain

Sure, leaving your bike filthy isn’t ideal, but sometimes it’s just not going to get cleaned immediately. If you’re wet, cold, deep into a bonk, or worse still, all of those things, spending 20 minutes cleaning down your bike is the last thing on your mind.

Don’t tell yourself you’ll clean your bike after every ride. Instead, tell yourself you’ll clean it fully on your rest day, and that you’ll never ride with a dirty chain. You can give your chain a quick once-over with some GT85, a cloth, and some fresh lube in five minutes, and if you don’t get a chance to do it when you’re home after a ride, you can do it before you head out the next day.

Get 10% faster on your local segment

If your nearest go-to climb has a segment leaderboard that reads like a WorldTour race team, don’t tell yourself you’re going to take a KoM. Some segments are ridden by ex-pros, lifelong athletes, or full time-riders every day. If you ride 8 hours a week and only took up the sport in the last few years, that KoM may be a stretch too far.

Try setting the target of a 10% improvement in speed or power on that segment

Setting a resolution so heavily reliant on the performance of others is never a good way to go. Instead, make it dependent on you. Try setting the target of a 10% improvement in speed or power on that segment you love to train on. It’s in your control, it’s measurable, and you can do it.

We bet you’ll have nailed it by April

Enter your first race

Promising yourself you’re going to start crushing the local crit scene having not raced your bike since school sports day is kinda silly, isn’t it? No, you’re not going to go from cat-4 to cat-1 in one season.

try sitting at the back of the pack and lasting as long as you can but don't fall off the back

If you’re totally new to racing, the biggest step is entering and showing up for the first time. Tell yourself you’ll enter one race early in the year, and make sure you do it. If you’re nervous about the speed and elbow-jostling, try sitting at the back of the pack and lasting as long as you can but don't fall off the back. You’re not going to win by lurking at the back of the peloton, but for your first race, it may give you the initial boost of confidence you need.

If that feels too much, enter a time trial. Less risk, same competitive buzz.

Once you’ve got one race under your belt, you’ll have a feel for whether you enjoy it or not. You’ll more than likely get the competitive bug and enter your next event within 24 hours of making your debut. From there, you’ll get better, and who knows, you may end 2020 as a cat 3 or cat 2!

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