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Psychology tips for cyclists during Coronavirus pandemic

Psychology tips for cyclists during Coronavirus pandemic

I’m Peter Hudson, the CAMS-Tifosi team psychologist. Here are a few thoughts I shared with our riders this week on maintaining motivation during these uncertain times. I hope you find them useful.

It’s only been a few weeks since I was together with the team at their training camp in Spain, but we find ourselves now in a very different and uncertain world.

At present fortunately there are no limits on solo/household riding outdoors in the UK, but that may yet change. In France “exercise” outdoors is limited to an hour a day within 600m of home.  Clearly take advantage while we still can, for obvious reasons, but remember to stick to the government guidelines of one form of exercise outdoors each day and if you’re riding, ride solo or with members of your household only..

Normally motivation for training is facilitated by goals and targets – specific events in particular – so with great uncertainty as to when we might race again it can be difficult to keep motivated over what may be a lengthy period.  So it is important to “feed” that motivation and to be creative and flexible as to what our goals and targets might be in order to keep training effectively. Here are some of my suggestions:

Remember first and foremost we are bike riders as well as racers – take time to enjoy the experience of simply being out on the bike. Try not to view a training ride as a means to an end but as an end in itself. Concentrate as much as possible on “being in the moment” as you ride (rather than “being in your head”) and focus on what is coming into your senses – sights, sounds, smells, physical sensations etc as well as paying attention to the specific training demands of your ride.

We also gain great physical and psychological benefits from training, even though races may be in the distance. This has a major positive impact on our general well being, which is particularly important at the moment.  So remember that the exercise we get in training has massive benefits, even if we are not racing.

I have generally avoided the domain of “online cycling” in the past, but maybe the time has come for a fresh look at this phenomenon as a means both to maintain motivation and also have some experience of “competition”. You will be aware I’m sure of the various Strava challenges/Zwift races etc so if this works for you then speak with your coach to fit it around your training programme. If you do take part do so wholeheartedly and treat is as you would a “real” event. Prepare in the way you normally would in terms of kit, equipment nutrition, rest, mental skills etc. This is good practice for the real thing and ensures that you won’t be mentally “rusty” when you return to competition.

Despite all of these enforced changes, don’t forget that your “normal” motivational techniques can still work, with some tweaks for flexibility. So when approaching training sessions use the imagery of “seeing” yourself racing successfully (whatever that means for you) at some point in the future and also picturing past successes. The imagery is important – rather than just thinking about it, trying to visualise a successful outcome and recall past success is a far more effective motivator.

Thanks for reading,

Peter Hudson

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