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Seven tips for fitting in your ride during the holiday season

It’s the busiest time of the year, or is it the most wonderful time of the year? Maybe it can be both when you coordinate your rides with your time-crunched schedule.

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When the weather gets colder, holiday responsibilities creep in, kids are home from school, and travel is on the books, the bike can get lost. Sometimes it can be hard to fit in your workout. In fact, with so many responsibilities and appearances, it can feel almost selfish to set aside time just for yourself to pedal your bicycle. But, it’s so important, though. You don’t want to watch your hard-earned fitness melt away, and chances are if you take the time for yourself, you can be the best you can be for others in your life too.

Here are seven tips for fitting your ride in during the busiest season of all:

1. Plan ahead

Planning ahead is probably the most important thing to do when you’re in over your head with responsibilities. Block out at least a week at a time — more if possible — and plan the time that you will dedicate to the bike each day. Take it one step further: Plan out the actual workout you will do each day. It’s all too easy to skip a workout or cut it short when you never fully committed to the workout in the first place.

Also read: Six tips to improve your cycling during the off-season

2. Put others in the know

Once you know your plan, put others in the know as well. Most of the time, people are happy to give you one hour to yourself per day, but people can’t give you that space unless they know you are planning to take it.

Let your family know that you plan to ride your bike on specific days and times. Then you give them the ability to plan their days and lives accordingly, too. This way they won’t come to you looking for you to solve problems, talk to relatives on the phone, or roast a turkey in the middle of your interval.

3. Ride the trainer

I’m a huge advocate for riding outside, in all conditions, however, I’ll even admit, the trainer is just so efficient. If you are time-crunched, the trainer will likely be your best friend during the holiday season. Putting your bike on the trainer is as ‘set it and forget it’ as cycling gets. There is very little that you need to change or prep for a ride on the trainer. Also, you won’t lose time putting on layers of clothing or standing at stoplights out on the roads. Additionally, from a fitness standpoint, it’s extremely efficient to be pedaling for your entire ride instead of losing time to coasting.

day in the life
Time crunched? Ride the trainer in the morning for a super-efficient workout that is less likely to disrupt family scheudles.. (Photo: Elisa Longo Borghini)

4. Power hour workouts

Speaking of efficiency, shorten your rides and find your fitness through “power-hour” type of workouts. Get on the bike, work hard, and then cool down. It doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be long in order to maintain — or even increase — your fitness. If you are challenging yourself and getting your heart rate up, chances are that you are benefiting from the workout in one way, shape, or form.

Also read: Eight ways to find motivation to ride on the hardest days

5. Early bird miles

One of the best times to get your ride in with little to no distraction is in the early hours of the morning before the rest of the world has woken up yet. I know that waking up early can sometimes feel like the absolute hardest thing to do, but it always feels so good to already have your workout done, shower complete, and coffee in-hand when everyone else is still rolling out of bed. Plus, if someone does try to call you or grab your attention at 5:30 am in the morning, most of the time you have a free pass to respond at a later time.

6. Consistency is key

Consistency is so much more important than quantity. If you have the choice, it’s better to ride five times per week for one hour than it is to ride only twice a week for 2.5 hours. Not only will it be more advantageous to you from a fitness statement, but it will also help you get into a better routine. Additionally, it’s much easier for everyone else to remember and respect your schedule and boundaries when they are clear and consistent.

7. Maintain your equipment

Last but not least, maintain your equipment. This goes for everything from checking your tires and sealant to make sure you will avoid a dreaded flat while on your training ride, to making sure that your kits are dry or clean the day before your rides. It would be pretty frustrating to wake up early to get on the trainer, only to discover that you don’t have a single set of clean bibs, or worse yet, to wake up early and get your ride in, only to get a flat or break a chain two miles from your house and to end up late for work, anyway. It might feel like it takes too much time to check your equipment on occasion, but I promise it will save you time in the grand scheme of things.

Hold yourself accountable

You can do this. Hold yourself accountable to your goals and desires. That said, part of achieving your goals is also being patient and kind to yourself when you truly can’t fit it in. Don’t allow yourself to get derailed or unraveled if you miss a workout or two. Instead, move on, kit up tomorrow, and get back to work.