The Covid-19 pandemic has put a hold on all racing and has severely limited the participation of cyclists in their sport. Club riders are restricted with group riding not allowed and many are left with rides of relatively limited distance and focus. Leisure rides continue but subject to the same restrictions of social distancing and the need to keep local (whatever that may mean).
Motivation is a big issue
Both coaches and their athletes are confronted by a lack of motivation. Coaches are seeking ways to keep their athletes training and develop their fitness while at the same time athletes are finding it more and more difficult to train without the prospect of competition. The season’s focus is becoming less tangible each day.
Non-competitive club riders, used to lengthy weekend rides, may begin to doubt their ability to continue those rides when restrictions are lifted. Which highlights another aspect of ‘motivation’ – the effect of ‘losing fitness’ and the attendant anxiety that can develop.
What’s the answer?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a competitive cyclist, a club cyclist or a leisure cyclist – we’re all in the same boat, ie. the need to create motivation to continue whatever we need to do so we can maintain and improve our fitness.
Road cyclists and those that ride off-road all need to re-appraise their goals To maintain motivation to achieve but also accept a fundamental principle.
LANDRY BOBO in the article “How to Recalibrate Your Motivation for 2020” recognises this issue and explores how a re-appraisal of long term goals will help.
Think about where you want to be six months or a year from now. The thing about sports is that everyone, even the most elite athletes, can improve. These improvements are the results of year-on-year building. In fact, certain adaptations, like mitochondrial biogenesis and increased capillarization can continue to improve for many years, which is why some athletes do not have a breakout performance until the latter years of their careers. Remember that training is not only about peaking for one event, but it is also a long-term biological process. A highly motivated athlete can take advantage of this time to seed those long-term improvements.https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/how-to-recalibrate-your-motivation-for-2020/
The realisation that certain adaptations occur due to a long-term biological process provides a level of comfort for those of us that might be anxious about ‘loss of fitness’ through a lack of competition, training or even riding.
From my own experience I have been surprised by my ability to head straight back into indoor training after an absence of a year and only felt a slight loss in fitness and still able to complete workouts I had undertaken in a previous training. So, I believe there is some truth in what has been said.
Landry also goes on to explore improving your weaknesses and creating short term goals but the latter can be difficult to identify when there is still a potential for competition or enjoying those longer club rides.
How short should short term goals be?
That’s not easy to answer but let’s give it a shot.
In the UK there is not going to be any competition for at least seven weeks (at the time of writing) so that gives an opportunity to create some goals that will fit into that timescale and, of course, be of benefit.
First things first – accept that there is no competition or club rides for ‘x’ weeks And that will provide a framework for your plan.
Next, identify goals that will improve your riding which you can work on during that timeframe. It can be anything and certainly more than one thing. It could be a skill, an improvement in w/kg, tweeking body position, strengthening, flexibility, weight loss/gain, etc.
Finally, with goals identified you and your coach can create and action a plan to meet those goals.
An important realisation
As Landry says, you have re-calibrated your motivation, you’re still on track, you have goals to achieve that feed into your main goal for the season.
Even if your main goal for the season is not achieved, you will have laid a groundwork for continued fitness development for the next season and your sporting career beyond. Nothing is wasted.