Most Australians have been enduring harsh lockdowns over the past 18 months, myself included. In fact, I have been living under some of the most extreme lockdown conditions on the planet, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Thus, remaining motivated towards my cycling goals has been difficult, especially when there are many other responsibilities to attend to. The fact is, lockdown is not easy for me, nor anyone; and in Australia right now there is a rising shadow pandemic surrounding mental health. So with this in mind, I thought I would use this blog platform to share my top five tips and tricks for how to stay motivated during this very testing time.
“Remember, struggling up a peak is only momentary, but the real prize is at the end”
1. Deal with Your Emotions
A few months back, I headed out on my bike to train with a few friends and was knocked over by a reckless driver. The devastation brought about by the incident was enormous. Not only was I injured badly, but I was both traumatized and confounded by the fact that my bike was damaged, and that I would never be able to ride with a ‘piece of mind’ ever again. Fortunate to the incident, both the best and the worst of my personality shed.
Yet, the main lesson I learnt was to ‘separate fact from emotion’. Meaning, it’s impossible to change that ‘fact’ that I was involved in a collision, but I can change the ‘controllables’, typically my emotions.
You can’t change the fact you’re in lockdown, but you can change how you react, and deal with your emotions. That is to say, the COVID-19 case numbers and an enduring lockdown, are nothing, but merely arbitrary in relation to you and your wellbeing. While a difficult concept to grapple for some, nevertheless, nailing this strategy will allow you to eliminate negativity, accomplish your days, and train to your absolute limits. So, instead of focusing on the negativity associated with lockdown, begin to focus on what can be changed, and that is, your emotions.
Water is a vital medium to ensure the functioning of the human physiological systems remain stable. Interestingly, the human body is made up of approximately 65% water, and yet many people do not drink enough water throughout the day according to the rule that never grows old of ‘8 cups of water a day’. Ingesting fluids can directly impact the way you function, from reducing drowsiness to improving your energy levels on the bike or simply around the home.
Okay, thus shall the ‘Keepers of the Cog’ abide by drinking from “Bidons [that] are small in size”. I, therefore, tend to drink water from bidons even when I am not riding, and aim to consume 4-5 bidons per day to maintain my hydration.
So, tomorrow morning, whip out your favourite bidon, and squirt a full bidon down your throat within half an hour of waking up. Then, try to consume at least 3 more bidons throughout the day. I typically aim to have my second bidon by late morning, and the third, along with my lunch. At this point, it’s usually about 2 PM, leaving me with one or two more bidons to finish off before dinner.
Diet and nutrition can play large roll in a sense that a healthy diet will not only make you a fitter cyclist, but a happier person off the bike. Undeniably, sticking to a diet can be tough during lockdown, and I can vouch for that feeling, when you’re stuck at home on a cold Melbourne day with nothing else to do, but eat food.
In response, I adapted to realising that often we as humans deal with our emotions through food, and that’s totally fine. Consequently, I have learnt to accept that sometimes, our bodies need some external motivation to ‘keep the engine going’.
However, moderation is the key. Therefore, next time you’re feeling a little edgy, go out and treat yourself.
But here’s the catch,
Don’t buy up the entire chocolate aisle at your local supermarket. Rather, keep your ‘nushing’ extra special when you require the stimulus most. Or, like myself, eat healthy all week and then devote one day as a ‘cheat day’. For simplicity, I like choosing Wednesday’s as it’s mid-week. In doing so, I look forward to every Wednesday, whilst simultaneously, adhere to a well-balanced diet throughout the week.
4. Try Different Modes of Exercise
I can appreciate how much you love cycling, the same way I do too. But, sometimes cycling during lockdown may have little benefits due to the inability of achieving great distances, or your desired intensity, often leading to monotony and staleness. Unfortunately, when cycling becomes dull, you simply won’t enjoy riding.
Well, to tackle the plague of monotony, use this period to ‘open new doors’ for your training, and most notably, devoting some days to training off the bike. With a myriad of YouTube content relating to exercising from home, the ability to train off the bike has never been easier.
Obviously, as a cyclist, I like to ensure that my training transfers onto the bike. Simple exercises such as the ‘skipping rope’ can build incredible endurance in the calf muscles, as well as the manner your knees control impact under load, without hyperextending.
Thankfully, under the Australian Medicare schedule (assuming you’re Aussie), you can receive benefits for up to 5 sessions delivered by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Meaning, even during lockdown, you may be able to visit your local Exercise Physiologist or receive telehealth consultations. At little to no cost, you can now begin your journey to improving musculoskeletal functioning on and off the bike. How’s that?
You’ll notice that many articles published on the web about motivation during lockdown place much focus around routine. However, what if you’re not that ‘routine person’, or you may very well be routine oriented, but somehow cannot seem to adhere to a schedule?
Well, routine for many cyclists involve hitting the sack early, and rising early to beat morning traffic. But, during lockdown it can be very easy to fall into the comforts of your home and snatching every opportunity to sleep an extra minute. Undesirably, it can be the case where you ‘dig a pit’ and suddenly begin to feel hopeless. Yes, that is understandable given ‘lockdown fatigue’, is a real thing, and quite evidently, you need the extra rest and sleep.
Beating yourself up in these tough times can not only be detrimental, but also bring about worse symptoms of ‘lockdown fatigue’. So, instead of ‘digging’ your pits deeper, focus on ‘cycling hygiene’. Meaning, involve yourself in the same activities that you would normally partake in as a cyclist, for example your post ride coffee. That entails, simply reaching out to your cycling buddies, and schedule a time to meet for a takeaway coffee and go for a walk. Other ‘cycling hygiene’ activities such as shaving your legs regularly and watching cycling related shows or races can help keep your mind in the game.
You may not see the benefits at face value, but when you do maintain ‘cycling hygiene’, magically you may just become motivated better than ever before.
We’re All In It
Yes, its understandable that lockdown can be costly in many ways, but more significantly, your health is most important. And, yes, sometimes it can be difficult to remain in a healthy state and motivated. But, with the correct mindset, you’ll be setting off in the correct direction. A healthy mind will undoubtfully impact those who surround you – from your family to your children, and to your friends whom you live life with. Now, make this the day you put behind the past, and you’ll begin to have a blast!