Consistency is not the most glamorous or motivational word is it? It's not the kind of word the health and fitness industry use to conjure up the image they’re selling. There’s lot of fitness, weight loss and beauty programs at this time of year that promise spectacular results within a matter of days. They show toned, happy and glamorous models eating probiotic naturally sourced Icelandic whale yoghurt and working out in a beautifully lit quiet gym. The association they’d like us to make is ‘buy our stuff, look like this’. In technical terms this is, of course, complete bollocks.
Truth is, a healthy dose of reality is a necessary precursor to making progress. Part of this is recognising the value of consistency in training. I know, boring isn’t it? But 4 out of 5 people who start exercise programs at this time of year quit within 5 months. Actually most stop after a 6 week period characterised by an initial flush of enthusiasm followed by rapidly declining attendance and abandonment, it just takes 5 months to cancel the subscription. For new runners, Strava data shows most won't make it past 19th January
In the fitness industry, the 2nd Friday in February is know as ‘Quitters Day’. The vast majority of people who have started something in January have packed it in by then. Pity really, because 6 weeks regular exercise is about the minimum period to see some meaningful improvement.
It doesn’t matter how tailored the training program, or how nutritious the yoghurt. If you don’t turn up and do it (or sit down and eat it I guess) consistently, it’s not going to work. Certainly, the most successful riders I coach all have consistency of training to thank in some part for making resilient long term gains.
So, a few pointers and a hard truth.
The hard truth is, be honest, if there’s a history of quitting health kicks or packing things in after a few weeks, don’t start. The gym subscription will go to waste, the Christmas gym kit will languish in the cupboard and the yoghurt will go out of date in the fridge.
Happy New Year!
Rich Smith is a psychology graduate and a British Cycling qualified Level 3 Road and TT coach supporting riders nationally and internationally. He is coach to the Great Britain Transplant Cycling team. Not quite as miserable as he sounds, he launched RideFast Coaching in 2015 to deliver one to one, rider centred training that is physiologically effective and psychologically sustainable.
The ramblings of a cycling coach...