Effective endurance training involves riding for multiple hours at a time and if you do this sort of training regularly, it probably won’t be long before you find yourself sometimes getting bored.
So, here are 10 tips that I use to cure long ride boredom and that you can put into practice in your upcoming endurance rides.
1: RIDE LOOPS
So the first tip is to turn a long ride into a series of loops.
This will help you to focus on the loop you’re currently riding, and not on the ride as a whole. It’ll also give you a sense of progress and achievement when you tick off each of the loop.
Try breaking a long ride down into around 2-4 loops for best effect.
2: RIDE WITH OTHERS
The next tip is to ride with others, whether that’s a single training partner or with the local cycling club.
This is something I don’t do very often, but when I do get the chance to ride with someone else, it makes a huge difference to how long the rides feel and boredom simply isn’t an issue.
This works particularly well for endurance training too, since this type of workout relies on duration and not a laser-focus on a power or heart rate.
3: LISTEN TO PODCASTS
The third is to listen to podcasts whilst you ride.
Listening to something whilst training or just riding along is a great way to keep yourself entertained, and for long rides, podcasts work great.
They’re often long-form pieces of media, so hold your interest for similarly long periods of time. What’s more, you can use your training time to learn about something new as you ride if you choose an educational podcast.
Be sure that you stay alert out on the roads when riding with headphones by lowering the volume, or riding with only one headphone in your ears.
4. RIDE A NEW ROUTE
The fourth tip is to design and ride new routes and new areas.
One of my coached riders Fabrice reminded me how motivating it can be to ride a new route if your usual training locations have got a bit monotonous.
Exploring new roads or trails is an instant boredom cure, since you’ll be busy taking in the new surroundings, or at the very least making sure you’re going the right way.
5. VARY INTENSITY
The next tip is to add in intervals or vary the intensity of your long rides.
A mistake a lot of cyclists make is trying to hold the exact same power or HR for the entire ride, as this is often seen as a best practice.
However, as long as you ride the distance, throwing in some different blocks of intensity will help you to break the monotony of the ride and make the ride more stimulating.
Try planning these changes in intensity ahead of time, so that you can look forward to them throughout your ride.
6. BREAK IT UP
My 6th tip is to actually stop a few times throughout your rides.
Whilst you might want to crack on or may feel that stopping will hinder your endurance adaptions, stopping and taking short breaks will both prevent boredom and allow you to stay out longer by giving you additional recovery periods.
The pros do it, and so should you!
7. ADD IN DRILLS
To make long rides both less boring and more functional, the seventh tip is to add in some drills to your endurance training.
These drills might be high cadence spin-up, one-legged pedalling or some slow-speed seated accelerations.
Drills like this will add a different dimension to your endurance training and will give you the chance to work on some useful exercises that can improve your fitness even more.
8. RIDE OFF-ROAD
Tip number is 8 is to ride off-road at points in your ride.
If you have a mountain bike, a cyclocross bike or a gravel bike, consider adding in some off-road sections to your long rides.
Riding off-road demands more skill than simply pedalling along smooth tarmac, so will keep you more entertained than a regular road ride.
This again might be an opportunity to explore new places you haven’t ridden before too.
9. ADD IN HILL REPEATS
The penultimate tip in this video is to add in hill repeats to your rides, since for me it makes the time go faster.
A good way to do it is ride around an hour to a hill, repeat the hill a few times at a steady pace but with a few surges thrown in, and then ride the hour or so back home.
This gives you a destination part-way through the ride, something that feels purposeful to work on in the middle of the ride, then another destination, which is home, to think about once you’ve done the bulk of your endurance training.
You might like this post on improving your hill repeats.
10. KNOW YOUR PLAN
The final tip is to have a plan and know why you’re doing that kind of training.
Endurance rides will be low in intensity and it may not immediately click how they’re making you faster.
If you have a plan though, and you can see how these long rides fit into your wider fitness and you understand why they help, you’ll find motivation to do the session is higher and boredom will likely be lower.