Good habits around training can improve your workouts and assist your body’s ability to adapt, recover and perform. Making a conscious effort to improve training habits can help you grow your FTP and achieve your training goals.

For more information and tips on training check out Ask A Cycling Coach Ep 237



Good Habits Go a Long Way

There are so many things we as athletes can do to improve our training and make the most of our workouts. The things that actually have a lasting impact on our training though, are the things we are able to consistently integrate into our training. This is why it’s so important to take a look at your habits and identify what changes you can make. That way, you’ll have an objective measure to improve those habits and ultimately improve your training.

Keystone Habits

It takes a lot of focus and effort to build a new habit. The good news is that some habits have the potential to indirectly facilitate other habits. Keystone habits, as the name implies, do this by supporting other habits. Like a ripple effect, changing one keystone habit can carry into other aspects of your life. This can positively impact other habits or behaviors that could, in turn, become habits.

Exercise is a good example of a keystone habit. When you make exercise a part of your weekly routine there are multiple benefits. Not only do you make a contribution to your fitness, but you can also boost your mood, enhance circulation to your brain, and create a sense of accomplishment. All of these benefits can translate to other habits in your day. An elevated mood, for example, can do wonders for other habits you might be trying to build. Plus, scheduling time and preparing for workouts might improve your time management skills in other avenues of life. A keystone habit’s influence is highly individual but can be applied by any athlete looking to build good habits.

Establishing Keystone Habits

Establishing a keystone habit is no different from how you might establish any other habit. Start small and focus on consistency. If you’re trying to build a habit of hydrating before you train, start with a simple change. Something like carrying a water bottle with you during the day can go a long way. Seeing the bottle might remind you to drink or go refill your bottle. Staying hydrated might, in turn, make you get up from your desk more often than usual, giving you small mental breaks that improve focus, and extra movement that improves blood flow or your total number of steps for the day. The point is that keystone habits don’t need to be formed in one big leap. Take small realistic steps that correspond with your lifestyle and the rest will follow afterwards.

Patience is key. To effectively integrate a new habit into your routine takes time, persistence, and maybe even a bit of experimentation to create consistency. Instead of overloading yourself with a bunch of new changes at once, change one variable at a time. You might discover that one change makes another easier. A good approach is to focus on one change for at least two weeks (or until it feels habitual) before tackling another.

Easy Wins and Places to Start!

When you start thinking about your training in terms of habits, it can be overwhelming to think about all the different things you might want to change. While it might be tempting to start working on a bunch of things at once or jump into tougher issues, it’s best to start small and work your way up. Get the ball rolling and begin by checking off some easy wins.

Places to Start

Improving RPE and eliminating obstacles that prevent you from getting on the bike is a good place to start. Here are just a few examples of habits that can help every athlete get on the bike easier, and lower RPE during their workouts.

Prepare Your Fuel and Hydration In Advance
Prepare your bottles and any workout nutrition the day before your workout. This allows you to get right on the bike without any distractions and helps you guarantee that you have enough fuel and water on the bike. Making sure you have fuel and water before you get on the bike is a keystone habit that not only helps you get on the bike, but can help you drink more water when you ride.

Organize Your Setup the Day Before
Prepping your gear and making sure your setup is dialed in advance is another great way to eliminate the possibility of distractions when you get on the bike.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have a good fan for indoor workouts and that your bike shoes and kit are ready to go before you ride. 

Nail Media!
When training indoors, integrating music and media are both great ways to decrease the RPE of your workout. Building a good playlist, and pairing it with some race footage can help the time pass quickly.
Pro Tip: Make a habit of charging your headphones and the device you use to play videos the night before your workouts.

Set Reminders For Yourself!

A new change isn’t always easy to remember. When you’re still working on building a new habit try setting an alarm on your phone or setting up a reminder in your calendar that prompts you to complete a task (or to not do something).

You can set a daily alarm that reminds you to fill up your bottles, charge your headphones and set aside a kit for the next day. Or you can set a reminder on your phone like “Do you have your water bottle with you?” Doing this can help you to remember to do something and stay consistent.

It All Adds Up

Just like your training, building good habits takes time and patience. Take your time and remember that consistency doesn’t mean perfection! Making small changes and focusing on nailing one change at a time, is what adds up in the end.


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Meghan Kelley

Meghan Kelley is a writer, XC MTB racer and trail enthusiast. Her years spent racing XC and working at TrainerRoad has translated to a passion for all things cycling.