An injury or simply a busy period in your life can mean months or even years without your usual cycling routine. While your bike will be waiting for you patiently until you’re ready to sit on the saddle again, a long period of inactivity can easily make you anxious about returning to your old hobby.
Getting back into cycling after a long break is much less scary if you approach the task with the right mindset and strategies. Here are a few tips that will help you regain your motivation and hit the road once again.
Take it easy
Although your muscles haven’t entirely forgotten what it means to push the pedal, your body will need some time to regain its previous fitness levels. Therefore, you must take it easy in the beginning. Be patient with yourself and respect your limits, especially if you’re returning after an injury.
Start with shorter cycling sessions than you think you can handle. A 20-minute ride two to three times a week is plenty enough to slowly get back on track.
Set realistic goals
Clear goals are important for any endeavor, including cycling. However, after a lengthy break, making sure your goals are realistic is paramount. Aiming for that cross-country marathon just two months away sets you up for failure. Instead, set smaller, more manageable short-term goals to avoid disappointment.
Your goals don’t have to be performance-based if you’re not yet ready. You can also simply decide that you will ride your bike three times a week. Even if you have a bigger goal in mind, make sure you break it down into bits you can easily track. Monitor (and record) your progress constantly and celebrate your little wins. You can adjust your goals as you go, so there’s nothing to lose.
Rest is important
Physical activity puts a massive strain on our bodies. After a cycling session, your muscles need some time to recover. Therefore, it is recommended that you take a break between cycling sessions to let your body properly heal. How long your recovery should depend on many factors, including your experience, fitness level, general health, and more. If you’re returning after a long time, your body will naturally take more time to recover between training sessions.
Listen to your body and don’t push yourself if you feel exhausted. Make sure you provide your body with everything it needs for healthful recovery: stay hydrated, eat well, give yourself a massage, and get plenty of restful sleep.
Focus on nutrition
Proper nutrition is a crucial element in effective recovery, which is important for a returning cyclist. Eating the right foods at the right time helps rebuild damaged muscles and replenish your energy levels. The two nutrients to primarily focus on are proteins and carbs.
For the best effect, try to have a meal no longer than 30 minutes after your cycling session. If you can’t grab a full meal at that time, a bar or shake that combines protein and carbs is also a great alternative. On the other hand, fatty and sugary foods are best avoided.
Get new gear
Returning to cycling can be difficult after a long break. With your fitness gone, the challenges can seem daunting and overwhelming. You’ll need plenty of motivation on your journey to overcome these feelings and keep going. Although you’ll receive the greatest encouragement from successfully reaching your cycling goals, a little gift to yourself can effectively jump-start your enthusiasm.
Whether it’s just an attractive water bottle or deciding on completely revamping your riding gear, treating yourself will make you excited about sitting on your bike after so long.
Find a cycling buddy
When there’s no one to keep us accountable, it’s easy to steer off our original path. You might skip your planned cycling session in favor of lounging on your couch with no repercussions. Needless to say, it’ll be difficult to make cycling a habit without accountability.
The best way to remedy this is by seeking out a cycling buddy. Is a friend or relative of yours interested in taking up this hobby? Take them along and the two of you will be able to motivate each other while also making sure you’re sticking to your plans. You can also join a group ride and rediscover your love for cycling in a community of like-minded people.
Taking the first step toward getting back into cycling might be difficult, but it’ll be more than worth the effort. Returning to an old hobby is fulfilling for the soul, while there’s no doubt the activity itself is great for your body. Take it slow, be compassionate with yourself, and follow the tips above, and you’ll be able to feel the wind like you used to in no time!
Image by bublikhaus on Freepik