Easy does it – the sure way to build fitness

Your bike has been consorting with spiders in the shed all winter. You’d really like to head out in the spring sunshine. But you wonder how you’ll ever get fit enough to ride further than the end of the street. The secret is to build up slowly and pat yourself on the back regularly.

You need three things to get started: the desire to do it, a bike in good service set up to suit you, and lots of patience. Because it takes time to build up fitness. Don’t castigate yourself if you’re not up to a 50 km ride in the first month. Congratulate yourself that you’re riding twice as far as you were. It’s so important to celebrate each milestone.

Set yourself some achievable goals. Ride around the block three times this week. Next week increase your distance to 5 km, then 10km. Consolidate your gains. When you get to 10 km spend a couple of weeks there. Then increase a couple more kilometres.

Keep a record of how far you go each ride. This is a great way to measure your achievements because you can easily look back on what you’ve been doing. Did I say you should pat yourself on the back regularly?

Find some things you’d like to aim for. Maybe it’s the next Bendigo By Bike ride. Maybe it’s Ride to Work Day this year. A tangible goal is a great motivator. When you wonder why you’re doing this, the answer is easy: “I want to do the Fruit Loop ride in Shepparton next year.”

Company is a great motivator too. Find a pal who wants to do the same thing. Getting out the front door is often the hardest part. If you have to meet someone for a scheduled ride, it’s much easier. Try riding with some of the groups who get out regularly in Bendigo. Any of the bike shops will be able to tell you what goes on each week.

Look for inspiration. Men’s Health Week features a riders’ breakfast on Tuesday 5 September and a 15 km ride with the BUGs and Over 50s Mountain Bike Group and Saturday 9 September. It’s not just for the blokes, women are welcome too. (Phone Bendigo Community Health Services 5435 4300 for details.)

Don’t push yourself too quickly and celebrate your improvements. Most of all, remember that the idea is to enjoy yourself.

See you on the road soon, God willing. Eddie Barkla

First published in the Bendigo Weekly Friday 25 August 2006

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