Consistency is HARD

About to turn 60, retired, plenty of time to train, plenty of motivation, no bike skills so no road riding (I’ve only had a bike for 18mths - 99.9% connected to a trainer).
My goal is to get fit and lose weight (and keep active). I have no desire to race (in the real world at least - too old to recover from crashes and I have very poor bike skills and absolutely no desire to ride on real roads).
TR is my 3rd attempt to do (and stick to) a workout schedule. I keep starting the journey at close to 100kg and get through 3-4mths, losing 10-15kg then fall off the wagon for 6-8mths (of doing nothing) where I lose all my gains and regain the weight!
I have found it very hard to stick to a specific workout programme for more than a week or 2 before I dump it and move onto a different programme. At the start these workouts have seemed too easy and I have tended to adlib with lots of extra rides turning a 450TSS week into a 750TSS week and a 240TSS recovery week into a 450TSS week thinking more is better (and I certainly lost more weight more quickly).
What I have found, is that my desire to continue with the programmes have waned. Its not that I am physically incapable of continuing, I just lacked the desire to continue (perhaps just a general fatigue).

So I began my current block back in Sept '20 on the same path/cycle. Started with a Garmin Cycle plan, then moved to a Sufferfest Plan 2 weeks later, and then to TR plans 3 weeks after that. I got through 2 weeks on a TR plan (which I didn’t stick to) and now have a new version of that plan where I have just completed 2 weeks unmodified (except for a couple of noodle rides with my wife out on some bike paths).

So why is it so hard to just stick to a plan? Will I do it this time? Is it the no pain no gain mentality many in my generation were brought up in? Will I sabotage it if the plan starts to get ‘too easy’ because I tell you it was very difficult to stay off the bike during my last 270TSS recovery week…

I’m definitely upping my game in the consistency department, about a year behind you and unfortunately retirement still not in the crosshairs. Ended up doing a FasCat plan in the Spring of 2020 and those plans clicked for me on several levels. So now I’m doing a lot more (slow) aerobic endurance riding and fewer intervals, on a budget of 8-12 hours/week. Back on the righteous path of consistency, after knocking down a bunch of newbie goals in 2016-2017. Seek and ye shall find. Don’t stop looking.

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It sounds like you have the motivation, but lack the discipline. Discipline beats motivation 365 days of the year.

I’m 56, and like you I was instilled at a young age with the thought that every workout had to be hard. It’s just the way it was for our generation. Later in life I bought a heart rate monitor just for grins. I then found a book on endurance training. I’ve forgotten the name of it, but I remember it preached the value of slow and easy workouts. I recall setting a HR alarm on my monitor that would continually beep at me. It was agonizingly frustrating because I was going so slow I didn’t feel I was even working out. However, after a few months I noticed that I could go much faster at that easy pace. A few months after that I was setting new PRs for myself, not at my all out pace but at those easy low HR paces. Once I added some intensity back in I blew all my previous PRs out of the water. I was already 40 years old. It shouldn’t have been possible, but it happened. The thing is, I never would have known it was possible if not the for discipline of doing those easier workouts. It wasn’t easy. The old school of thought that I had to go hard everyday was hard to overcome. To be truthful, I still struggle with it today and am constantly having to remind myself to take it easy. Best wishes to you.

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I guess its one of those things, some people have it and some people don’t. I enjoy training, and have no problems finding motivation. Aside from the odd recovery week (which i don’t do as often as i probably should), i average 15-16 hours a week, and there is probably 2 weeks in the last 3 years i’ve done less than 8hrs. I’m not intending this in a ‘look at me’ way, simply saying that structured training works for some people and not for others.

If your goal is to simply lose weight, rather than get faster, you may not be the sort of person best suited to TR. I would suggest just riding your bike more, lets face it in many cases thats a lot more fun than intervals, and is probably better aligned to your goals. For anyone not racing or wanting to get faster in my mind intervals have no place…

I would suggest giving Zwift a go if you don’t want to ride outside. I think thats a better fit for someone in your situation.

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For me having a set time to do my workouts is easier for me. I like schedules, they build habits. For me its right after work. I dont eat, I dont sit down. I change and get right to it. For you maybe make it the first thing you do in your day or maybe the last.

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If you can set a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) target a plan is easier to stick to.

The most dedicated athletes are the ones that enjoy the process more than the outcome.

I also think that you are lacking goals (events) and by not riding outside you are missing out on a lot of the fun.

After we all get our Covid vaccinations, maybe you should join the YMCA or a swim and tennis club. Find a sport where you can also have a social outlet. Or, develop riding skills and get outside. Find a group to ride with. Get a gravel or mountain bike if the cars are a problem.

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Ask yourself why am I riding? Why does it matter? What do you really want? This may be a hard process you’ll have to sit with. When you figure out what drives you to keep restarting, because something must be important to keep trying. Then write it down and put it somewhere you have to look at. If it’s about someone else and how it will effect them it will give it more power.

I ride to stay healthy and able to give my wife the best life I can. Sometimes to continue to be a pain in her butt as long as I can.

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I second that using something like Zwift or RGT, possibly in conjunction with TR, might be more engaging. You have virtual scenery, fondos, group rides, and can dip your toes in racing. Maybe fitness for those events will motivate working through a full LV TR plan. I swear I chopped a thousand wheels this weekend during zwift group rides and no one crashed, so no skills required.

It kinda sounds like similar to a lot of people with dieting, your motivation is high at the start and you make big changes (such as starting a plan) but then as motivation wanes you fall off the plan. I found making a series of small, sustainable lifestyle changes, that accumulate over time, worked much better for me. The changes become ingrained habits and just happen regardless of motivation. As someone mentioned, having a schedule can help, like if you always ride after breakfast or after getting up.

Maybe also consider options to scale down or step back from workouts if motivation is not very high on a particular day. If your schedule is 4x15 at sweetspot and you are dreading it, maybe try 2x15 and do the rest at endurance pace, or swap in an endurance ride. Doing something is better than bagging the whole workout.

With TR, it is bring your own entertainment, so some time could be required to dial that in. There is no chance I could continue to be compliant with my training plan if I just stared at the blue bars and the countdown timer the entire time. But if you’re changing plans / tools every couple of weeks, it is clear that you haven’t found a combination that you find engaging.

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The big motivator of TR road users is getting faster and seeing the power numbers go up. With FTP the metric that gets most attention. For many, the reason why this motivates them is because of what they know it means in terms of performance when competing with others, this could be racing but also just group rides or some stranger that you can now overtake.

Like others have mentioned Zwift might be better suited to give you that drive. Since you are not interested in riding outside to compete with others, You can just free ride in Zwift land, participate in group tides and even race. Wanting to keep up with the pack and seeing how each week you get stringer could help you stay motivated.

You’ve got about 20 years on me age wise, but our starting position and goals at that point are/were pretty similar. ~110kg, no real fitness to speak of, wanting to lose weight and get fit. I did lose some initial weight, but struggled to be consistent.

I think you need to look at your motivation again, not why TR, but why cycling? Unless you’re a stronger man than most, doing something you don’t love simply because it’s good for you is hard, I mean really hard.

You say you don’t want to ride on the road, fine, but where do you want to ride? MTB? Zwift and similar might help motivation in the short term just because it’s a change, but if you’ve genuinely got no bigger cycling aspirations (even if it’s just to be able to do more interesting rides) then I’d question whether there’s a better sport for you to take up, maybe running, tennis?

For me, I joined a local club for the social aspects, signed up for a charity sportive for a cause I cared about, and when that was over I set my sights on a LEJOG ride (which I would have done last year except for covid). Nearly 3 years later I’m at 35KG of weight lost and within touching distance of 4w/kg and because I love what I’m doing, even training 6 days a week doesn’t feel like a chore at all…

In summary, go ride your bike, ride somewhere different and interesting, either riding inspires you or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t then tweaking round the edges by changing plans or training programs isn’t going to make up for the fact that whilst you have a goal (fitness and weight loss), you aren’t motivated enough by cycling to be able to sustain commitment to training.

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Its not that I lack motivation, just a lack of discipline to stick only to the plan. When I don’t, I overdo it and ‘lose interest’ though, most likely, fatigue…
Eventually I would like to race on Zwift - just not there yet (low end of D). Hell its difficult finding group rides I won’t get dropped from…

We’ve all been there.

Sounds corny I know but, if you go to your local bike store or reach out to the clubs around you, I feel sure that they’ll be able and willing to help you. Just make it known that you’re not that confident. You’ll be surprised how many skilled bike riders and racers will happily give you their time and guidance. Putting your hand up and asking for help is the best way to make friends, where cycling is concerned.

Good luck :+1:

You are 100% right, consistency is haaaaaaaaaard for everyone.

This may not be everyone’s choice, but I find accountability partners very important…

Maybe find a like-minded soul and agree to review your calendar every week/month? I find that it’s much easier to mess up the plan when I know noone will call me on it.

I used to have a coach who would prescribe me a training plan and then give me no feedback whatsoever about how I was doing. Now I am much happier with Coach Chad prescribing the plan and my riding buddies holding me accountable since I share it all…

And I second the post about motivation v. discpline. Motivation lasts about 1-2 weeks for me, I can’t build a season on that. Summed up very nicely by the VC:

Big takeaway is what the guys keep stressing on the podcast: “Commit to doing the first interval”. Once you have done the first interval you’ll finish your workout 99% of the time and enjoy it more often than not. But it’s so easy to find a reason (excuse) to skip a workout though, or change the plan…

It gets easier once you form a habit of following the plan. For me that took almost a year of riding motivation waves and finally understood I had to ignore it entirely: don’t overdo it when you happen to be motivated, commit to the first interval when you are really not feeling it.

Don’t go around chasing rabbits either if they don’t fit the plan (KOMs, Zwift events, Strava challenges, I’m looking at you). These are there for people that thrive on external motivation, and ties then over for the next day/week, but there is a reason the time horizon for these is never more than a few weeks. More often than not they will take your plan off track, unless you explicitly chose those that fit the plan and reject all else.

Smooth and steady wins the race against yourself

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Consistency is the hardest part of any endeavour. Anyone can work hard for an hour/day/week, but consistency is working hard over and over again. It’s no wonder that people give up; it’s bloody hard!

Focusing on the process, rather than the outcome is solid advice. Discovering the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing will make focusing on the process a lot easier.

Lots of good advice.

When I face a choice of good habit vs bad habit, I remind myself that discipline is remembering what you want. At the end of the day will I be happier that I did x or that I did y?

My wife uses the “just give it 20 minutes” mantra. If’ she’s feeling off or not inspired, she talks herself into the first 20 minutes by saying she can stop at that point if she still doesn’t feel like doing the work out. (She almost never stops after 20 minutes).

Find somebody to meet up with, even if it virtual. In the weight lifting world, the suggestion is to get a gym buddy. A commitment to meet somebody else gets you to the start line.

You mentioned Zwift - just riding around can be entertaining, especially on a big TV.

Maybe get a coach. Having a person to consult with and guide you might be what you need for 6 months.

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You seem to have a good handle on where the problem is. I am 58, so I grew up with the same “more is better” 1970s fitness ethos that you did… You mention that you know it is a problem but you have not corrected it. It needs to be corrected or you will be following a philosophy that can only result in beating yourself into a hole or being dissatisfied that you didn’t do more… If you have infinite willpower and discipline the best outcome is a state of fatigue where you can only do mediocre workouts and stalled fitness. It is very difficult to see how anyone would want to maintain this for very long so it is more likely that you will get discouraged and quit.

More is not better, it is only more. More intensity today means I can do less tomorow I look at rest, recovery the same way as I look at workouts. If I workout on a recovery day, I FAILED to take a recovery day. If I go hard on an day that was supposed to be easy, I FAILED my easy day. If I go 5hrs when I should have gone 2 hrs, I FAILED to do a two-hour ride that day.

Said another way, there is an optimium amount of training and once you exceed it, you are reducing your fitness. Before you add another workout or push that Z2 workout into Z3, ask yourself “how much fitness and I willing to sacrifice to indulge my desire to hurt more?” It seems unlikely that there many times where riding indoors and reducing your fitness are going to seem worth it if you approach it that way.

Once you correlate your feeling of success with what you cognititivly know to be what you should be doing, it sounds like you will exit the enthusiasm/burnout cycle you describe. Then you will get more results from less input.

If the primary goal is weight loss then you might consider another form of exercise if you want to add more calorie burn. something that doesn’t require recovery Better yet just cut the intake down.

If you can set a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) target a plan is easier to stick to.

You know, this was just discussed on another thread here. Yes, SMART goals can work. But they can also be confining, and you can get discouraged if you fall short. Setting open goals is a valid alternative. That thread contains an external link.

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A lot of SMART targets aren’t looking ARTy anymore :neutral_face:

The average TR user targets certain events and is motivated by training for this event. Events range from participation in a grand fondo (or the first century) to really competitive races. After the main event or an entire racing season the athlete takes a break and re-starts the cycle.

If you don‘t have a big event consider signing up for one or setting yourself a goal other than losing weight. Losing weight and fitness should be a by-product of working towards your goal.

Some people are not motivated by events so you would have to find another way to motivate you. This could be group rides (peer pressure) or an activity that you do because you enjoy it (riding outside?).

Last bit of wisdom: Humans are creatures of habit. Find a way to make working out part of your daily routine. Create a trigger that gets you on the bike - could be as simple as Setting an alarm on your phone.