Last week I responded to the first part of 54-year-old Ed’s e-mail: Anti-Aging: 4 Tips for Winter Blues and Lost Mojo.
One of the ways to get out of a funk and get motivated is to set small, easily achievable goals. Goals like ride four days a week for at least half an hour.
RBR reader Ed’s e-mail continues,
I am finally feeling almost normal. I did a 6-mile hike with an outdoor group on Sunday. I’ve been riding.
What’s missing for me is having the motivation of a goal or event to get ready for…goals for riding, strength exercises, stretching and core work. As much as I try to at least do my stretching routine with push-ups and planks, I just don’t have the motivation.
My finances are an issue. Mine is not the most heavily financed retirement! I can’t afford to do either Ride the Rockies or Cycle Oregon this coming year. I love both events and they motivate me to train. What can I aim for that’s affordable?
Coach Hughes responds, Winter doldrums are pretty common. Maybe it’s time to shift to a different kind of goals. Mine are simple but challenging:
1. Consistency: At least 10 hours a week of exercise of all kinds. After four days of great skiing, yesterday I spent hours doing a deep cleaning of the house and was as tired as if I’d skied. We had 10” of snow overnight so I’ll cross-train today with my snow shovel digging out the propane tank — great core and upper body work.
2. Recovery: Listen to my body. After four days of skiing my legs were tired. Home chores, although not fun, are a good opportunity to rest my legs. Recovery takes discipline; even if there’s great snow a rest day will make the following days more fun.
3. Variety: Four days a week of aerobic activity, gradually building the weekly duration. Aerobics includes riding the trainer, XC skiing and snowshoeing. Resistance training 1 – 2 days a week to increase upper body strength. I don’t do specific leg strength exercises because legs get a hard workout every time I ski an expert hilly trail, which is also good weight bearing exercise. Tai chi and balance exercises 4 – 5 day a week, which improve my balance. Core and stretching maintenance exercises 3 – 4 days a week.
4. Exercise intensity snacks: I don’t do specific intensity training; I just mix it in. Cross-country skiing I sprint up short hills. Continuous snow shoveling gets my heart beating hard, too. You can read more about exercise snacks in this column:
5. Technique: I have good endurance skiing but am a poor descender. So instead of a fun ski on Monday I did six short hill repeats working on my snow plow, practicing controlling my speed and making turns. I gradually increased the difficulty of the descents. This afternoon I’ll ski down the same hills without snow plowing to work on my balance going a little faster. Both of these build the confidence I need to descend on expert trails.
6. Pleasure in the moment: My wife and I are fortunate to have 120 km of trails at the YMCA 15 minutes from the house, where we normally ski and three other areas within an hour’s drive. We ski simply for the pleasure of skiing, not because we’re working toward a goal.
7. Simple rewards: We’re planning inexpensive ski trips to Grand Mesa, CO this month and Leadville, CO in February. We want to be fit enough to ski for half a day. We’re not training with a specific program, just skiing longer a couple of days a week.
My goals aren’t big achievements. Mine focus on a healthy, happy and hopefully long life.
I asked Ed to think about his goals both for the winter and for 2023.
Ed writes, So, what are my goals for ‘23?
1. Have fun: Riding, XC skiing, and some snow shoeing and hiking. No snow here yet, but lots already upcountry, all a couple of hours drive from here.
2. Exercise 6 – 8 hours per week: As much for overall health as for riding.
3. Establish and follow a regular regimen: Do stretching, core and strength work to reestablish my flexibility and strength and to gain back some muscle mass I think I’ve lost.
4. Ride a century every month of the year: Several years ago I challenged myself to ride a personal century a month, which was great motivation. This year for variety each month I could map out different route that’s new to me. I live in Northern California where our winter is rainy with occasional dry days.
5. Aim for 4,000 miles: For my 54th year and training for 5,500 when I turn 55 in 2024. Maybe two centuries a month for April through September?
6. Try self-supported riding trips: Riding inn to inn locally and maybe driving to a few two- to three-day routes. I need to test the bags that I’m just acquiring. My club has weekend adventure rides, but they’re camping trips and I want a bed and a shower.
7. Target some iconic new climbs: Maybe visit my family in Portland, OR and climb to the nearby Mt. Hood ski area. I could climb Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta in Northern California near the Oregon border. In the fall in Colorado when the aspen are turning color Cottonwood, Guanella and Berthoud passes would be spectacular.
Coach Hughes responds, Ed, your first five goals involve different activities starting now. Ease into them. Maybe start by establishing and following your exercise regimen for a few weeks. Then add exercising 6 – 8 hours a week. And then ride your century toward of the month. If you tried to work on several goals right now, your odds of success are much lower. By meeting one goal you’ll feel good and motivated to take on another goal.
The following should be very motivation for 2023: #1 (have fun), #4 (centuries on new roads), #6 (credit card touring) and #7 (new climbs.) They don’t involve a strict regimen except for #4 riding a century a month.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are useful for motivation for more quantitative goals. Your riding SMART goal could be:
- Specific. Ride at least 4,000 miles this year.
- Measurable. Number of miles.
- Attainable. Attainable given your riding history, current fitness and not dependent on factors you can’t control.
- Realistic. Realistic given the available time you have to ride, the weather, etc.
- Time oriented. Next year.
When you set a goal in January, you set it in conditions of uncertainty without full information about 2023. Your goal is fixed and as circumstances change, pursuing a goal may be counterproductive. Pursuing a goal may hurt you in a way you didn’t expect. Every goal needs a “pursue goal unless…” clause.
Elizabeth Wicks had a goal of doing 75 rides of 75 miles in 2019 when she turned 75. But she developed a physical problem, which kept her off the bike for five weeks. She changed her goal, which you can read about here:
- 9 Tips for Eating and Drinking During Winter Bicycle Rides This column includes a table to guesstimate how many calories an hour you are burning. You may have a different estimate for calories burned from your computer, heart rate monitor, etc. If you do then use your estimate. The basic point is for rides lasting more than several hours, you should consume every hour about 1/2 of the calories that you are burning, primarily from carbohydrate, with a bit of protein and fat.
As we age consistency becomes more and more important. This eBook applies to roadies in your 50s, 60s, 70s (like me) and beyond. Whether your goal is long-lasting physical health, the joy of physical activity or continuing athletic performance, this eBook will teach you what to do in the off-season. It’s divided into three parts:
- Review of the physiological effects of aging.
- Training modalities to combat these.
- A 12-week off-season training program with a range of options.
The 26-page Off-Season Conditioning Past 50 is just $4.99.
My Cycling Past 50 Bundle includes:
- Off-Season Conditioning Past 50 – how to best work on your off-season conditioning given the physiological changes of aging.
- Healthy Cycling Past 50 – what happens as you age and how to incorporate cycling and other exercise activities into your daily life to stay healthy and active for many years.
- Healthy Nutrition Past 50 – what to eat and drink to support both a healthy lifestyle and continuing performance.
- Performance Cycling Past 50 – how to train to achieve more specific cycling goals given the physiological changes of aging.
The Cycling Past 50 Bundle totaling 93 pages is just $15.96.
My two-article Cycling Past 60 bundle includes:
- For Health gives you six different health maintenance objectives for different components of your physiology, including comprehensive fitness programs that address these objectives. It shows you how to measure your “Athletic Maturity” to assess your relative fitness in terms of all aspects of good health. This eBook includes three balanced, full-body exercise programs for different cyclists of different athletic maturities. 24 pages
- For Recreation uses the concept of “Athletic Maturity” to design programs for riders of different athletic maturity. It includes six different structured workout programs, three each for Endurance and Performance cyclists, based on levels of athletic maturity. 23 pages
The 47-page Cycling Past 60 bundle is just $8.98.
My eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process includes interviews with Elizabeth Wicks, Gabe Mirkin, Jim Langley, Andy Pruitt and eight other male and female roadies ages 55 to 83. They emphasize the value of intrinsically enjoying an activity rather than doing it because it’s good for you. They describe many ways to adapt positively to the aging process. They talk about changing exercise goals over time. The final chapters are on Motivation and on Sticking With It. Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process incorporates the latest research and most of it is new material not published in my previous eArticles on cycling past 50, 60 and beyond. It’s your comprehensive guide to continuing to ride well into your 80s and even your 90s. The 106-page eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process is $14.99.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.