4 Mistakes that Women Make When They Start Training

Arleigh Jenkins is a new mom living in Denver and a veteran of the bike industry, with 15 years of experience in bike shops, cycling advocacy, and a range of other roles. 

By CTS Athlete Arleigh Jenkins

As a lifelong athlete (thanks mom!) I sometimes take for granted the healthy practices that have been engrained in me over the years. These practices include balance, proper preparation, and the strong mind required to be an adult athlete with family, friends, and a full time job. Here are the four most common mistakes I hear from women as they start out training while trying to balance other priorities in life.

1. We try to just add training instead of reprioritizing

We all strive to be the super-mom – super-wife – super-woman that we think we must be. When I picked back up training this past fall my #1 goal was to strike a balance between athletic endeavors and not dropping any of the balls I was already juggling. This required a reset in our family. We still get everything done, but now laundry is done 1 day a week, we order some meals pre-made, and my workouts are on average one hour compared to the 2-3 hour workouts I had done in the years before.

If you are just getting started, I would advise you to write down everything that you do for 3-7 days. Yes, everything. It’s the best way to really discover where your times goes each day. At the end, reflect on what could be rearranged, removed, or delegated out.


  • Order your groceries online (especially dry goods and staples).
  • Schedule play-date trading once a week to get in that outdoor ride without the babysitting cost
  • Watch your TV shows on the trainer, rather than after
  • Delete Facebook (or whatever app may be sucking your time) from your phone
  • Create food plans 2 weeks at a time and make left overs to freeze for the next week

2. We either create very easily obtained goals, or ones so lofty we won’t meet them for years

Setting goals a very motivating process but often we shortchange ourselves because we don’t yet know what we can accomplish. Sometimes this means we set goals that are very quickly achieved, or it can mean we set goals so ambitious they could take years to complete. A deep conversation with your coach or mentor is the best way to start this process. In my experience the first 3-6 months of training will really help you mold your goals, so make sure to reflect on them monthly and be open to make adjustments. Currently my goals include a short term goal of a certain amount of weight loss within the next month, a mid-term goal of establishing a great balance of family/work/racing within 3 months, and a long term goal to move up to a Category 3 road racer by the end of 2016.

3. We listen to others too much

Women typically have a high emotional intelligence and we feed off of each other. This is one reason I am a huge proponent of women getting athletic coaches! I know we are all different, but I think that when we find harmony at home with our family and friends supporting us towards our goals, then we blossom. Unfortunately, many of us (me included) also read into things and assume the worst of outcomes. In the course of figuring out how to manage training and home life or work, your partner may mention that something is lacking and the next thing you know you’re taking it as a personal attack, and you feel that you are failing. Communication is key, and you have to be open to it and it has to go both ways. Focus on creating a positive and uplifting circle around you. Involve your family in your goal setting and weekly and monthly plans. Find a strong group of athletes that build you up and never question your speed, skills or ability. In return be that person, too. Encourage others, and provide support and valuable tips.

4. We take Ourselves too seriously

As athletes we can put on the game face and blinders to accomplish our goals. We get frustrated when a workout is cut short, or we fail to over-communicate with our support group. Being a great athlete can be a selfish undertaking, and we must remember why we are chasing the watts, or better split times. Recovery or endurance days can be an opportunity to include your support group in your activities. Ride with your daughter to the park or maybe ask a new friend to go for a longer ride than they have done in the past. Perspective is crucial for sanity; as important as your training goals are to you, it’s still just training. One of the important lessons I’ve learned from my coach is that no individual workout is so imperative that I need to stress out over it. I don’t like telling Noah I didn’t get my workout done, but he never makes me feel like I need to apologize for prioritizing my family or career over training. We simply make the adjustments and go forward.

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Cycling can be an intimidating sport, and the more we can be inclusive and reasonable in our actions then the more our numbers will grow and the safer our riding will become. We won’t all be Amanda Nauman, Allie Dragoo, or Rebecca Rusch, but we can all look to them for inspiration and pursue the goals that are personally fulfilling and valuable to us.

Related Articles:

CTS Athlete Insight: What I Learned in My First Month of Coaching

5 Things Time-Crunched Athletes Need to Do Right Now


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Comments 4

  1. Pingback: 11 Surprising Mistakes Cyclists Make When Getting Back in Shape - CTS

  2. Thanks for this. At the start of training for a big goal after losing 12 pounds. It’s a good reminder that it pays to communicate, and try to keep it in perspective. Whether I do well a the planned race is important but not more important that any of the others who are supporting me.

  3. Great read. How do you come back from injury without fear ? Age and weight gain involved.

    I used to work at NORBA so I m not a competitive athlete but former desk hockey ! ?


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