Posted by Editoress on 03/19/20
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, including training and riding our bikes. Social distancing requirements have meant the cancellation of all competitive and recreational events, as well as going to the gym. So far, it has not led to bans on individuals cycling outdoors - such as in Italy, Spain and, most recently, France - and, hopefully, it won't end up there.
We need to keep in mind that this is a temporary situation, even though it may seem like it's dragging on endlessly. At some point, groups rides will start up again, including competition. But, how do you maintain fitness, motivation and a training schedule when it's hard to know what and when you are training towards?
We have been asking members of the Canadian cycling community for their ideas and thoughts, and will be publishing some of them here. Today, we start with Canada's national mountain bike coach Dan Proulx, who has advice for both riders and their coaches.
The main thing is talking to the athletes. Make sure they're doing okay and following current best practice with regard to the pandemic. Get an understanding of what they can handle for training right now. With extra stressors, it doesn't take much training to push an athlete into a state of over-reach. Obviously, training will need to be adapted (potentially all indoors) but in general I advise coaches and athletes to stick to their plan with some sensible modifications. Even though racing is cancelled at the moment, there are still so many ways that athletes can improve themselves while following the advice of experts and acting in a responsible manner.
The time away from racing could actually be an advantage - giving athletes more time to develop - more time to work on weaknesses. In the old days, coaches just picked a bunch of races based on the calendar offerings and then tried to squeeze in the training around those events. There was no connection to the overall longterm development of the athlete. Races were the training.
We've advanced a lot since then. Successful coaches now plan the training program first and then plot in the races that will best support that development process. Races are only a part of building good athletes - most of the improvement actually happens in daily training. Cancelled races are unfortunate, understandable and the right thing to do - but it's not a reason for athletes to give up on their own development.
I think we have to look at the big picture. We have so much to teach athletes and we only have them for a relatively short window. We don't have any time to waste if we want to develop their potential. Even if we lose the entire year of racing, there are still many ways that they can improve. There are still ways to develop their physical, tactical, technical and mental performance while following the advice of health experts and doing our part to "flatten the curve". We need to look after the athletes and we have an obligation to also help in the World's effort to fight COVID-19.
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