Your training and Covid 19

There's no it denying now, we are all going to be directly affected by the Coronavirus, so, what do we do if it affects out training goals for the year?

On Monday I was on a panel of four female cyclists and coaches at an event run by Elle Linton and Liv, discussing Building Confidence and Fitness on the Bike, at the St Paul's store of Giant Bikes, near the centre of London. Although a healthy number signed up for the event, not even half of those turned up. This week, with an increase in the number of announcements being made by authorities all over the world, concerns about the Coronavirus are rapidly rising. During the casual chat before the event started, we talked about how the city and it's big corporations were responding. We can only assume, with many companies advising employees to work from home, and people avoiding indoor gatherings, Covid 19 affected our attendance that evening.

It seems every day we hear of yet another sporting event being cancelled or postponed, international, national and local events and races. Monday evening, one of the attendees ask a very relevant question. What do we say as coaches, to our athletes when the event they have been focused on and training for is cancelled? It's not just professional athletes that are affected, as we see local event organisers, such as Monument Cycling making the decision to cancel their entire 2020 calendar, we too, as amateur athletes and leisure riders also face our target events disappear.

What to do when your target event, or events, are cancelled

Firstly, as a general rule, it's good to have multiple goals for the year. It's all part of the SMART goal setting process. Ensure you have different types of goals to keep you motivated, such as commitment, distance, speed and skills, etc. For example, you might set yourself a goal to do your first century ride. Even if you've entered an event to fulfil this goal, which is subsequently cancelled, the goal itself is still achievable. As an alternative you could find another event, find or create a route locally, ask your friends if they would like to join you, etc. Here are some more examples:

  • Skills: Improve cornering and descending; learn how to do Cyclo Cross style mounting and dismounting; improve your bike handling in your TT position; try a different discipline

  • Commitment: Ride a hundred miles every week; join a weekly yoga class; clean your bike after every ride; go to bed at 10pm every night and aim for 7 hours sleep; eat vegan or vegetarian 6 days a week

  • Fitness: Increase your FTP or FTHR; improve your flexibility; increase your max strength, on and off the bike; keep up with the faster club ride; beat your PB on your local climb

It is well worth taking some time to create a list for yourself, following the SMART goals philosophy.

Secondly, set yourself medium and long term goals. When faced with having to drastically change your plans for the year, look at the bigger picture, think about what else you can do to work towards your long term plans. If you had an extra year to prepare for 2021, what would you spend your time doing?

When your year hasn't gone to plan take time to reflect on the positives you can take away from it that will help in the future. What did you learn? Were there improvements in areas you didn't expect? What positive situations did you find yourself in that might otherwise have not happened?

Will my training affect my risk of infection?

We all know that being active keeps us healthy. The benefits of continuing to ride our bikes outweigh any increase in risk of catching a cold, flu or virus, we just have to be smart about it. We are most at risk immediately after strenuous exercise, such as a race, hard ride or interval training session. This is when you might need to take extra care and considerations. Here are a couple of great articles with advice from medical professionals:

Does exercise boost immunity? Let's investigate| Well+Good

Cycling and coronavirus self-isolation: GPs' advice for cyclists during a pandemic

Keep up to date with advice and announcements regarding Coronavirus that might affect you on these websites:

Public Health


British Cycling

Cycling Time Trials

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