If you are reading this, my first hope is that you and your loved ones are safe and well. Many of us have been isolating for at least a couple of weeks now and we are having to rapidly adapt to a new way of life and this includes our training. I had to re-think my approach to coaching almost overnight and as always must adapt to meet the different needs of the athletes I coach.
Which brings me on to the subject of this article – stability, reassurance and a focus on the future. Hopefully most people are now feeling more adapted to the changes we have had to make, so if not already, its time to start bringing some focus back to the training. I have summarised my thoughts and some of the steps taken to help athletes below –
- Maintain routine – in times of uncertainty it is extremely helpful to establish and maintain a routine to provide stability, grounding and focus. Training is ideal for this, it can provide the headspace that many of us need, a time to switch off from everything else and focus on one thing and it benefits mental health as well as the physical health
- Engage with others – group rides and training sessions are off, but thankfully technology can bring us closer to our fellow athletes via platforms such as Zwift. Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching has set up regular group training sessions on Zwift and I have worked with Giant Camden to provide sessions for the Liv Team based there. The sessions provide much needed social interaction, a good workout and reassurance you aren’t on your own.
- In addition to the group ‘rides’, I am also trying to provide reassurance to my athletes by communicating the direction their training is going in, the reasons for it and by trying to provide a new focus. We must look at this time as an opportunity to focus on different areas and work on our weaknesses. Most people have had to back off the intensity to avoid an early season peak with no racing but we can still work on areas such as pedal effectiveness, aerodynamics and cadence. For some of my long distance athletes this is a chance to work on some shorter, harder efforts to boost the FTP and for others it is a chance to work on their strength and stability off the bike.
- Try new things. Many of us will be experiencing additional stress and worry and may require more than a hard training session to help get us through the difficult times. From personal experience I find that meditation and yoga are very helpful in getting the mind off the hamster wheel. There are many free resources out there to help you get started and it’s a good habit to get into for the long term.
- Set goals – So racing may be off for a while and we don’t know when it will start again but can still work towards goals to keep us on track and motivated. Examples include trying to hold a target power in the TT position, online virtual races or off the bike goals. Triathlete Parris Williams has a set a goal to complete 5 full press ups to assist with her swimming upper body strength – great goal!
As always, coaching is a team effort between coach and athlete and the wider support network of the athletic community. With that in mind, here are some quotes from some of the people I coach, to motivate and inspire –
Rob Partington, triathlete: ‘The situation in which we find ourselves is a challenge, but also a great opportunity. As you say, so much is about what's going on in our heads and how we perceive it’
Steph Post, cyclist: ‘We love routine when all other routines are up in the air so this alone is a good reason to keep training’
Brit Tate, triathlete: ‘Its ok not to be taking over the world right now, just get from one day to the next keeping a positive mindset’
Parris Williams, triathlete: ‘Keeping communication with the coach is important for stability’
Keith Savage, cycling: ‘Step back from race results – what smaller goals will help; FTP increase, pedalling technique, online races etc’
As for the future, this is very uncertain, but I am sure racing will return at some point so we must keep working at our training with that in mind, as when we are on that start line we don’t want to be looking back wishing we had done more when we had the chance. Its ok to back off a bit, its ok to try new things and mix the training up, but keep focussed, keep the routine and consistency and it will pay off in the long run, just as always.
If you’d like to learn more about the cycling coaches and coaching packages we have available at Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching, please get in touch and a member of our team will be more than happy to help.