Good news! It’s over.
And it’s good news for both me and you.
For me, I’m pleased to say I completed my self-imposed
penance challenge, to cycle on every day in June [whispers behind hand, “for at least 20 minutes”]. For you, I’m pleased to say you won’t have to hear me going on about it all the time.
That is, you won’t have to hear about it again, after this post. For in this post I shall share my ‘results’.
Before The 30 Day Challenge (Monty Is Sad)
As of 30th May 2014 (the day before my 35th birthday), my Strava calendar looked like this:
Which is not very impressive for someone that lives on cusp of the Peak District, thinks of himself as a cyclist and writes a fugging cycling blog!
My ride motivation levels were low. On an objective level, I knew that when I got out on the bike, I tended to enjoy the experience. But that knowledge wasn’t backed up by action.
I was concerned that my low fitness levels would make those first few rides too painful. I didn’t know where my cycling kit had spread itself out around the house. I wasn’t sure that my bike was in working order.
Note how all of these ‘factors’ were things I was telling myself (in my head, like). It doesn’t exactly require much action to find my cycling jerseys, shorts and shoes; to check over the bike and make sure the chain was oiled. So, not ‘factors’. Excuses.
I needed a kick up the harris. So I enlisted a few hundred blog readers to take a run up and deliver me one.
After The Challenge (Monty Is Happy)
And here’s how the calendar looks as of 1st July 2014:
Which looks a lot better.
(Yes, I know 437km in a month is not very much to some of you but, come on, baby steps ‘n’ all….)
The full stats run down is as follows:
Number of rides: 31 (I cycled a prologue on my birthday, Day -1)
Total distance: 471.2 km (including the May 31st ride)
Height climbed: 3,042 metres
Time in the saddle: 22 hours, 24 minutes
Even though I was cycling every day, I made an attempt to balance the ‘training programme’ to include high, moderate and easy intensity sessions. As a result, I didn’t detect any of the symptoms of overtraining (absolute exhaustion, getting ill, injuries, difficulty sleeping). Instead I generally felt good throughout*.
(*though my legs definitely felt heavy on day 30)
There have been signs of the green shoots of improving fitness. In a longer Peak District ride on 25th June, I got a PB on a Strava-classified Category 3 climb, beating my previous best by over 1 minute 30. And I didn’t feel (too) sick doing it. Then today (2nd July) I completed a peaky-pointy 75km ride with another Cat. 3 personal best. Lookit:
Would I Do It Again?
What, go for a bike ride? Yes, of course.
Oh, you mean the challenge?
It was a great way to get over the inertia of starting to cycle on a regular basis again. It has kickstarted my fitness. It has motivated me to improve my diet. I’m hoping I’ve lost a bit of fat (I only started to measure weight and body composition from last Friday).
I’ll definitely by setting myself further challenges. Indeed, you’ll probably be aware by now that for July I’ve set myself the challenge of ‘getting lean for performance’. I’ll be more specific on what exactly that means in my next post.
The real challenge would be to see if I can cycle every day in December….
And if you want my thoughts on how you can undertake your own cycling challenge, here they are, cunningly titled:
How To Set Your Own Cycling Challenge and Complete It (Without Getting A Divorce)
If you’re struggling to see progress in your cycling, or to find the motivation to get out on the bike (‘the mind says, “yes”, the arse on the sofa says, “erm, no”), I don’t see why you can’t mimic what I did, and achieve something similar. All you need to do is:
- Set yourself a challenge: say it out loud, write it down, make it specific, focus on the process not the outcome (i.e. ‘I will cycle every day’, not ‘I will lose a stone in weight’)
- Tell someone/many people: ask them to hold you accountable, tell them why it is important that you achieve your target, ask them not to accept any poor excuses from you throughout the challenge
- Just focus on completing the first day’s activity: blot the rest of the challenge from your mind
- …then repeat for day 2…
- Record as you go: note down each daily success, use Strava, a spreadsheet, notches on your bedpost
- Share your success: with your partner, your accountability partner (who may be the same person), fug it – share it with me!
- … repeat for day 15… (but ignore days 16-30)
- …then day 29 (but ignore day 30)
- …then day 30
- Have an alcoholic beverage of your choice to celebrate (unless it’s a 31 day month, in which case you’ve been a little premature)
- Decide on your next challenge
There are a bunch of little tactics I used throughout the month (to do with forward planning, prioritisation, equipment prep etc) which helped make sure I achieved the fundamental objective: to place a lycra-clad derrière (ideally my own) on a faux-leather saddle (ideally attached to a bike). I’ll share these in a future post.
Let’s focus on one key message:
if you build it, they will come take action!
I Want To Help You Take Action
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this past month’s cycling. I’ve really appreciated all the people that have given me ‘kudos’ on Strava and commented there on what I’ve been up to. Shout outs in particular to Lesley, James and Paul who I think gave me a virtual high five for almost all of the rides I posted.
Having the ‘Sportive Cyclist community’ looking over my shoulder, with a stern frown and a cheeky wink (as appropriate) has been instrumental in making me get into the lycra and onto the bike(-ra?), each and every day, however tired or distracted I felt.
My mind is buzzing with ways I can help you bring the same accountability and motivation into your own cycling training regimes. Make sure you don’t miss out on whatever I come up with by signing up to the Sportive Cyclist email list.
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