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How to change your training in lockdown

How do you manage an athlete or training plan when everything changes? The onslaught of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has upended the entire dynamic of the sporting world. For athletes that want to weather the storm and prepare for whatever lies ahead, a well thought out plan is needed.

The normal guidelines for performance measurements have been thrown out of the window. With no racing taking place, the usual method of monitoring your performance has to be changed. What can we still control or measure when the normal parameters have entirely changed?

Disruption demands a fresh approach, particularly where people are concerned. In the midst of uncertainty, the best coaching model isn’t based on normal guidelines or accountability. In times of change and uncertainty, the most effective foundation of coaching is listening to an athlete. If your knee jerk reaction is to take a break, do it. If you decide to use the time to work on an area of weakness, then great! As a coach, now more than ever, I am guiding athletes to understand the principles behind what they are doing and helping them plot their own paths.

As an athlete myself for many years, I know how caught up in your own little world you can become. For the last few weeks, my coaching style at VELD has been centred around changing people’s mindset and motivation levels when things are out of their control.

So, what is still measurable at this time? Training data is still going to be in abundance… and measuring this in the modern world has become easy to do. As a coach, I use this data to highlight an area to work on and set about showing the athlete their improvements. It’s as simple as it sounds… if an athlete is struggling with maximal sprint power, I’ll set a couple of tests for them: peak power and 15sec power. I’ll create a plan for 4 weeks where they’ll work specifically on these areas. Then, re-test.

If, like a number of VELD athletes, you have been working all winter towards the summer season and you are coming into some really good form, why not simply change the goal slightly? I have suggested to some to take up racing on Zwift. It’s completely different to normal road racing but it serves a purpose of providing that competitiveness. It takes some getting used to and must be ridden as a game, however this is all part of the fun. A new challenge could be exactly what you need right now.

The biggest difficulty is the uncertainty of the length of time this current situation could go on for. I (nor any medical expert) can say for sure when this lockdown will end or when we will be able to get back to racing. What needs to be remembered is that we will at some point. When that time comes, you will be kicking yourself if you are not in good shape and ready to race.

A number of people have taken on my 6 and 12 week plans which offer up a taster of what the one-to-one monthly training plans are like, providing themselves with some structure while they have some extra time on their hands. If you’re not sure where to turn with your training, one of these plans might help.

Balance is key right now. Be sensible; don’t train hard on a day where you will be doing the weekly shop or even popping out of the house. Be vigilant when having to venture out and wash those hands more than ever. Finally, ‘rule number one’ has always been to never train with a virus, so if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, PLEASE DO NOT TRAIN.

Keep safe and healthy!


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