Frustrating, disappointing, upsetting, the list goes on. After a long wet winter, the racing season had just started, events were being scheduled, the diaries filling up and BOOM!... everything cancelled. As Meatloaf once said ‘All Revved up with no place to Go’.
Here's a few headspace things that may help.
Time spent training is NEVER wasted: Your training is an investment in your physical health and mental well-being. Your goal maybe to race or compete but part of the reason for a goal is to keep you motivated, committed and your training on track – sometimes the journey is as important as the destination.
Perspective: Remember we ride for fun. It’s not life and death, but events unfolding out there now really are. It's made me get some perspective about how fortunate I am to be healthy enough to train and race at my modest level. I'm an intensive care veteran so standing upright and breathing without a machine is a bonus for me and I suspect you'll all have your own shit-nasty experiences to relate to. There’s nothing like having something you love taken away to make you appreciate it. Let’s look forward to getting back to riding and, when we do, value it a little more.
Re-frame your emotions: It would be inhuman not to feel irritation, frustration and anger at what’s unfolding around us but it’s unhealthy to stay in that hole for very long. What’s happening is unfair, but then so is life. The rider you regularly put 10 minutes in to probably thinks it’s unfair you’re faster, fitter and better looking than they are. Suck it up buttercup. Unfairness is ultimately a building block of evolution so it’s fine not to like it but you might as well recognise its existence. If it helps, set yourself a time limit for allowing yourself to be pissed off, then move on. A little bit of self-talk may help as a reminder of what you’ve achieved, who you really are and how important it is to focus emotional energy on constructive progress. We can't control the situation unfolding around us be we can control our reaction to it - it's our choice.
Set some new goals: If your goals revolved around timings, dates and events have been torpedoed, don’t leave them hanging around. Adjust, move or re-set them quickly and ensure they are in your control to achieve, not reliant upon the action of others. Identify the next opportunity.
'...Every Saturday night I felt the fever grow... All revved up with no place to go...' From 'Bat out of Hell'. Written by Jim Steinman, sung (loudly) by Meatloaf
Use your training time effectively: At the time of writing in the UK you can still ride outside on your own – not a privilege extended to some of our European friends. Be careful, but there’s nothing to stop you getting out there for a ride. In fact, the case for 'state mandated exercise' is an easy one to make - it helps prevent us from putting pressure on the NHS by staying physically healthy and psychologically it helps stop us from going nuts. I guess we should just ensure we don’t take the piss by riding in groups and observe the social distancing rules because there's a lot of families and people on shed bikes out there right now.
Physiologically you might want to think about going in to a holding pattern by build a higher base and being ready to ‘peak’ later. Right now, a lot of my riders were/are making the switch from the preparation to the pre-competition phase with lower volume but higher intensity sessions aimed at racing. If you’re in the same boat, it might be worth thinking about putting another ‘build’ phase in to increase your aerobic endurance by balancing volume and intensity around sweetspot and FTP. It should mean when you do get to deploy your Z4 and Z5 you’re going to be putting out even more watts for longer you total machine.
If the thought of training at all in these strangest of times is too much, or 'delivering the plan' seems utterly pointless (and it might, particularly if you're trying to push yourself hard), knock it back, just go and have a pedal for an hour when you feel like it. It's likely your fitness will have built up over a long time, you might lose a bit of top end but you'll get it back soon enough when you need it.
Stay strong. Stay safe.
Rich Smith was a big Meatloaf fan when he was 11. He has coached the GB Transplant Cycling team for 10 years, is a British Cycling qualified Level 3 coach, a mature psychology student and has 30 years’ experience working in senior roles for Barclays, HSBC, British Waterways and National Grid Property.
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The ramblings of a cycling coach...