Fun and Training
How do you train to ride faster to achieve your GOALS and still have FUN!? We'd like to share ways in this training tip and podcast 👇
I think there are some misconceptions out there about what is necessary to improve and the FasCat Coaches and I want to share what we’ve learned over the course of our personal training improvement as well as our coaching experience that we share with our 1x1 coached athletes.
To give you an example: I think there are some of you out there that believe doing structured intervals 5 times a week indoors in your basement or garage is ‘what it takes’ to improve. Or that training must be structure structure structure, indoors, precise hard intervals all the time. That you must do your intervals indoors to make pretty graphs instead of more messy less controlled outdoor intervals.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Long endurance training is best done unstructured, outdoors. Athletes perform better outside with interval training rather than indoors. This type of training becomes un-fun for many if forced indoors all the time.
And backing up a bit: the advice I’d like to impart to you is all about a long term sustainable path forward to your training and reaching your goals. We see many athletes absolutely annihilate themselves on the trainer all winter long doing 4-5 structured workouts per week and when the good weather rolls around in the Spring for outdoor training they are completely cooked. Not like group ride hero cooked, but burnt out physically and mentally. And we want to prevent that and educate you on the ways your training should be fun and productive for many years.
Because when you consistently have fun with your training over 4-5-6 years - that’s when you truly TRULY improve.
Take Dylan van Baarle’s win at the Paris-Roubaix this past weekend - he finished 16th in 2016 and he’s been busting his butt for the past 6 years like a MONK. YOU think he’s having fun? You better believe it.
More Examples of not Having FUN:
Following a training plan exclusively for weeks at a time down in your basement and not riding outside is NOT fun at all. However if that’s what you have to do to get ‘ur dun - do so but have a plan to get outside when spring rolls around. A plan for Future FUN.
In other words, get off your smartTrainer and get outside. I coach an athlete that has been exclusively indoors all winter and when we started riding outside and increasing volume - his power shot up and he really started flying. Moral of the story: don’t develop the habit of riding indoors out of convenience when the weather is good for riding outside.
Examples of FUN Training:
Long endurance rides with no intervals are FUN - riding with friends is FUN. Group rides are the BEST! Even training races and events are hella fun. In fact I have previously described the Saturday ride as the quintessential method for having FUN while training. It’s what we LIVE for.
Flexibility in your training is FUN. Variety is FUN. Repetition is oftentimes not fun.
Dedicating yourself to following a plan, working hard and then crushing watts to get a result is FUN, and rewarding and extremely satisfying. Dropping your friends is FUN, hahahaaa.
Zwift’s slogan is FUN is Faster and I couldn’t agree more. Heck, FUN is whatever YOU think it is.
I checked in with FasCat Athlete Phil Gaimon and here’s what he had to say about having fun:
One rule that I have, is to think about the kind of ride that got you into cycling in the first place, and try to do something like that at least once a week. For me usually it's just being out in nature all day with a friend. Sometimes it's a destination like a coffee shop. Keep that up regularly and sprinkle in more towards the end of the season or whenever you're lacking motivation.
Phil - hits on something really key here: when you are lacking motivation weave in something fun for training on that day in order to get your mojo back. We’d do this with his training in September when he’d been racing since January and needed to have fun to train meaningfully on that particular day.
So this training tip and podcast is not just for amateurs its for pros too. There’s many many instances of successful pros who love the bike and similarly unsuccessful pros who just didn’t enjoy the training anymore - they weren’t having FUN.
Let’s quickly break down: flexibility, variety and repetition and what elements make training fun/not fun. And then let’s hear from the FasCat Coaches.
With regards to Flexibility: Sure we preach FtFP’ing but we also educate athletes on amendments they can make as their own coaches. For example - riding more or using TSS on group rides to achieve a certain amount of training. Moving workouts around, etc.. Not forcing training when the weather is crap and shifting things around for the good weather days.
I think its super important to be flexible with yourself - this is your hobby that you do for fun. As soon as you start doing it in a way that’s not fun, you’ll ruin your hobby, your passion and then you’ll quit your hobby and we don’t want that, at all. Cycling is a life long sport!
And another THING: the more fun you have, the faster you’ll get! Seriously - have you seen Tadaj Pogachar out there smiling from ear to ear? He’s cracked the code. He’s having fun and it shows. I see amateur athletes and pros having fun and crushing watts all the time.
Similarly I see amateur athletes come and go and those that leave just aren’t having fun anymore. Its likely they took too serious of an approach to their training that led to burn out. Or they put such a focus on their training that their life-balance wasn’t sustainable. We see aLOT of this with ultra-endurance events such as IronMan, Leadville and Unbound - athletes go all ALL in and then quit the sport the week after the event.
I think we all know the grumpy road racer out there who’s not friendly in the parking lot - he or she is doing it wrong.
Flexibility takes the pressure off executing a workout or a training plan perfectly. Miss a workout - no worries, you’ll make it up. Develop a habit of missing a workout - that is completely different.
Remember FtFP is about good training habits not necessarily performing the training plan perfectly.
Flexibility is a feature our Coaches incorporate with their 1x1 coached athletes which you’ll hear from in a minute.
Let’s talk about Variety real quick: variety is the spice of life!
We aim to give athletes variety in their workouts and their training styles to you guessed it: make the training more fun.
Variety can come simply from 3 x 10 , 4 x 9, 3 x 12, 2 x 15 - you can hit the same intensities but still vary the workout so you are not doing 3 x 10 over and over again. Performing 3 x 10 over and over again is what I call repetition and while repetition is necessary it can be made more fun with variety. There’s many many ways to splice and structure a 30 or 45 minute sweet spot, tempo or threshold workout up into intervals. We even advocate bottom to top intervals with no durations prescribed at all! For example: get in 45 minutes of threshold workout today (zone 4) from bottom to top of any length hill.
Fun ways of accomplishing this are doing 3 climbs: 20 minutes, 15 minutes and 10 minute climbs. Could also be 10 minutes 18 minutes and 15 minutes. In any order - have fun - do the fun loop, go explore and don’t let 3 x 10 rigid intervals beat you down.
Finally - sometimes buying a new piece of gear is fun - bike computer, wheelset, powermeter - NEW bike - new bike day is the best.
Variety can also come from riding different bikes! I like to say - your legs don’t know the difference and your brain enjoys the variety. Fat Bike, gravel bike, mountain bike - life is too short to ride just one kind of bike. Mix it up and make your training more fun.
Variety also comes in the form of training phases: lifting weights in the gym, building base, zwift, interval phases, training camps, race simulation group rides, race n recovery phases, mid-season breaks and of course riding for the sheer enjoyment of riding with no training purpose at all. With the caveat that when you do that you are likely getting in lots of aerobic endurance training. Mix up your training!
So that I don’t go on a full rant, let’s hear from the FasCat coaches who know a thing or two about helping athletes ride faster and having fun while doing it!
And I think we can all relate bc we’ve been on the other side of not having fun. You know how you have to fail in order to learn, grow, and succeed? Yea, not having fun helps one understand what truly having fun in training is - and we are sharing that with you today!
Definitely join the group rides - get to know your cycling community!
Remember it is not life or death if you don’t quite nail the intervals OR even miss a day of training due to life circumstances! You can try again another day. Don’t be RIGID but try to FTfP as much as possible!
If you have a solid training partner, go with them! Don’t always go alone. Then enjoy your cafe stop!
Be grateful for the good days and the bad days on the bike - someone else wishes they were in your shoes!
Cycling should be fun. Most people do not cycle professionally and don’t have to perform to have a contract - just go out and give your best effort - enjoy the freedom the bike can provide you!
Doing long rides when it is nice is fun. Going through all of winter and missing a nice 70* day group ride because you had an easy hour planned is not fun.
Don’t ever say my coach says I can’t. You should have fun and talk to your coach about including group rides into your training. If you don’t have a coach know the power demands of a group ride you have in mind and see if that can replicate a workout scheduled. Group rides replicate races in a way training solo on the trainer can not. You get to work on pack riding skills, bike handling skills, and typically far higher power variability that mimics that of racing.
Racing is fun. Training to do only 2 - 3 “A” races is not fun. Try to find some events that you can make a low priority but also test yourself and have fun. These can give you things to look forward to through the build up. Also gives you chance to dial in your race set up, nutrition, strategy and pacing. At the same time don’t be afraid to do something you might think is too hard. Those are usually one the memorable ones. Just follow a plan to be the best you at that event.
Missing out on the experience of cycling is not fun. Stop and take that picture. Stop at that bakery / coffee shop now and again. Turn your music off for a while. Ride with friends who are not as fast and don’t worry what your power or training value will be. Don’t push the pace or ride at the front the entire time. Mingle in the back. Socialize. Find different group rides and meet other riders in the community faster or slower.
For many of us, riding off-road is fun! Skipping gravel rides or long days on singletrack just to stare at our power meters is NOT fun.
Learn how to do endurance rides off road, or learn the best way to throw in some singletrack to your interval workouts (pro tip: what goes up must come down. Gain elevation during your intervals and use some fun trail descending as the reward). If you have a coach, talk about how to design rides that work both your fitness and your technical skills.
Listening to music while riding is FUN. Having a certain playlist or artists can make intervals fly by and make you dig deeper then if you’re grooving.
Coffee rides are fun. If you have a group of friends to ride with, make it a destination ride where the only goal is to get to point X for a coffee, food; or beer. Don’t focus on power, tell stories, joke around and you can knock out a few hours like it’s nothing.
Sometimes those days where the weather is terrible or the terrain is tough can be the most fun after the fact. Type 2 fun can be the most memorable experiences you have when you look back even though they can be tough in the moment.
Exploring new routes is fun. Go out and follow gravel roads and trails that you’ve never been on before. I call those my ‘Follow Every Spur’ ride: when you get to a spur in the road or trail, take it!
Having a destination is fun: figure out the logistics of meeting a friend for lunch in Denver and ride there from Boulder! Or meet friends at the brewery for HHr by bike. Or if your car is getting worked on, throw the bike in the car and ride home from the shop (and back again when the car is ready). Figuring out the logistics of rides like this add a whole new layer to WHY people ride bikes!
Riding with friends is fun. Putting on your music/podcasts to smash out a solo interval workout is needed, but don’t wear those AirPods for every ride - get out and socialize!
Alright sports fans, there you have it: real talk to have real fun with your training to ride faster and achieve your goals. Fun is faster so make sure your training is FUN and we guarantee your training will flourish and thrive.
Not having fun in your training? Get in touch with us - we specialize in productive fun training.