For some riders, serious cycling training starts on January 1st. For others, it starts on December 1st or earlier. I believe riders with ambitions of riding at the top level (not necessarily pro level) should begin their winter training in November, but I also know that some riders prefer to not put too much pressure on their shoulders too early.
What is the right time to begin structured winter training?
There are moments when you feel extraordinary comfortable and confident. In these moments you are capable of doing everything. And entering a new training program seems like a piece of cake.
For most serious riders with ambitions for elite-level riding, I suggest November 1st as a deadline for structured winter training.
If you begin later than primo November, it’s still possible to reach great performance.
There is no magic about November 1st – in my opinion, there is a little more magic about November 8th because it’s my birthday.
However, my point is that it takes time to build performance, so your ambitions for early spring races should reflect what time your serious winter training begins.
Some winters it seems easier to begin structured training. Some winters your motivation is low and spring and summer riding are out of sight. So what can you do to get your winter training started in time, so you perform well in the spring races?
How to stay motivated throughout winter
Set a goal. Nothing is more motivating than having a goal with your training. The mere act of setting a goal will make you perform better. If you were Alberto Contador, you would probably use memories from previous successful editions of Tour de France to motivate you.
(Yeah, it would be easy to stay motivated if you just knew you were supposed to ride on the big scene in Tour de France 2015… )
Most of us understand the motivation for Contador to train throughout the winter. Though, most riders don’t have big goals like that. We have different, but ordinary goals that many people have no interest in and never heard of. But that should not be a problem.
As long as it keeps you motivated and entertained there is nothing wrong with training towards an amateur race, weight loss, or whatsoever.
So the essential advice is to find a goal that motivates YOU. And make it as specific as possible. ‘Lose 4kg fat mass’ is a better goal than ‘lose some weight’. Making a strong ‘Finish sub-8hours in La Marmotte’ is a better goal than ‘Ride in the Alps next summer’.
So if you have already booked a vacation to participate in La Marmotte this could be a perfect season goal for you (and your bonus for hard winter training). And don’t forget to make it as specific as possible. Also, your goal must be achievable and of course, something that motivates you.
When the tough periods arrive, your overall goal should help you to stay motivated and maintain focus. Also, if you are proactive and take responsibility for your training and progress, weather events shouldn’t surprise you. It’s a part of the game and most of your competitors experience the same conditions.
The year 2015 could be your best cycling season ever. It’s not too late and if you try your best to optimize training, nutrition, and recovery, there is a good chance you’ll be flying in the new season.