Being active wasn’t always a priority for Lisa Thake. Self-described as the girl at school who would write a fake note from her mum to avoid PE class, Lisa started cycling 3 years ago, at the age of 35. With the not so subtle encouragement of her husband, a qualified Level 1 and 2 British Cycling coach, who secretly signed her up for a 100-mile sportive, she decided to give it a try and commit herself to a training schedule.

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Following 4 months of sticking to a program, she was hooked. She now takes part in several big events every year and shows no sign of slowing down. She also runs her own blog where she offers real advice about effective training and how to overcome obstacles on a bike. With solid advice for those who are new to cycling or are looking to turn things up a notch, Lisa shared some of her insight about how to believe in yourself and achieve your goals with We Love Cycling.

It’s great how upfront you are about not being a ‘sporty type.’ A lot of people shy away from sports later in life because they weren’t natural born athletes in their youth. Do you have any advice for overcoming this initial fear of failure or embarrassment when starting something new?

When I started my blog, Fat Girl Fit, it was more of a play on words from where I was to where I want to be. It is not intended to offend in any way and originally started as a weight loss and fitness journey, but I’ve found my journey is more about me becoming healthier and happier. I changed the strapline towards the end of last year and it now reads ‘Be Fearlessly and Unapologetically You’ and that is what I live by – do you and don’t apologise for it!

I am not good at sports and had my own hang ups about what people would think of me at the gym or at an event. I have since learned that everyone starts somewhere and to never judge a book by its cover. I may not have the physique of Chris Froome (and I cannot cycle like him either), but I can hold my own and achieve the goals I set myself. I surround myself with supportive and amazing people and never feel like I am being judged, in fact I find most people just want to help.

What does an average week look like for you? How do you schedule your training alongside everything else?

As I am following a plan for my cycling, I have set days I am doing certain training. At present, a week would look like this:

Monday – CrossFit and yoga (I also plan to introduce attending my cycle club’s beginner ride in the evening back into my schedule)

Tuesday – Turbo trainer session

Wednesday – Run or yoga or rest day

Thursday – Turbo trainer session

Friday – Rest day

Saturday – Turbo trainer session or out on the road on my bike

Sunday – Bike ride with my cycle club

It may seem a lot, but the turbo sessions are an easy way to get in the structured rides and include work on building my FTP and intervals. The yoga and stretching are essential to ensure I don’t get too sore or tight muscles so act as active recovery.

What has been the biggest challenge about maintaining your routine?

I can relate to the quote ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and I am guilty at times of comparing myself with others and questioning my progress. That being said, last year I followed the same process and in my first ‘race’ taking on the bike leg of a middle-distance triathlon, I completed the bike in 2:56, which saw a PB of over 30 minutes from when I had previously cycled the same route the year before. I remind myself to trust the process and that it doesn’t happen overnight.

I also blog about my training and events and that helps with accountability too – if you put it on social media that means you must do it, right?

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This is my happy face as this morning I was Fearlessly Unapologetically me and got a PB at CrossFit 💪🏻 The support at @ironphoenixcf is always pretty epic and today with their support I went heavier and got a PB on my 2 rep max cluster and it felt pretty bloody good! Even if there were a lot of burpees over bar 😷 they weren’t actually as bad as the lungesters (I didn’t even know what they were which was probably a good thing – lunge, lunge thruster with the weighted barbell) 🥴 I can’t advocate CrossFit and particularly Iron CrossFit enough – the members and coaches are all so supportive it’s just pretty bloody awesome! Did I mention I’m in a happy mood 😊 #crossfit #crossfitgirls #crossfitlife #crossfitters #weights #clusters #lunges #weightsworkout #weightstraining #barbell #burpees #strongisnotasize #strongwomen #strongnotskinny #lift #weighttraining #badass #fitnessmotivation #feelstrong #findyourstrong #fit #fitspo #fitfluential #foher #fohette #foherco #girlswholift #instafit #thisgirlcan #fatgirlfit

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What would you say to other riders who would like to commit more time to training but are nervous about how it would affect other aspects of their lives?

It’s all about balance. For me, I would rather have memories than stuff. I love my family and friends and I am lucky that most of my close friends also cycle and so time on the bike is often time with them. My son is older, and I am now the one often asking him when he is free, but I completely understand those with young children would struggle more and not sure how I would fit it in if I rewound 15 years. I have a friend who has two young children and she fits in her training by going on the turbo once she has sorted the kids and they are in bed, so she gets time with them and time to train and I have total admiration for her as a mother and in her training.

If you want to cycle more and have a good support network, I would work out your schedule, so it doesn’t negatively affect your personal life, or you will then begrudge the time spent on your bike. And have fun! For me if I didn’t enjoy being on the bike I wouldn’t do it – life is too short not to be smiling!

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