Originally, this blog post was going to focus on my last couple of races in 2019, and my racing plans for 2020. It was going to be about putting the pieces together. In Cozumel, I had a particularly great swim. In Daytona, I had a great run. I needed to figure out how to have a great swim, and a great bike, and a great run all on the same day.
But we live in a different world than we did a few months ago. Races are cancelled. The whole world is in pieces that need to be put back together! It seems more relevant to write about that.
They say sports are a good metaphor for life. I remember a few years ago I broke my arm. My swim coach, Alex Snegour, gave me some books to read. He said, "You can't do physical training right now, so it's a good time to work on mental training." One common thread among everything was that people who keep a positive mindset are the ones who make the fastest recoveries.
I think that applies to the situation now as well. Strategies that help us get through a race, or an injury, can help us get through this pandemic. Think positive thoughts. Focus on things we can control, rather than panic about things we can't control. Break things down into bite size chunks.
We've all had our dark moments the last few weeks. I know I have. It's hard to stay motivated. You get into the best shape of your life... for nothing. You question what the purpose of training is, when so many people are getting sick and dying.
I've found that one of the best strategies for staying positive is... training! One one hand, it seems like a rather selfish pursuit, to spend so many hours focusing on it. On the other hand, the best thing most of us can do right now is to stay home. As endurance athletes, we are very, very lucky that much of our training can be done at home.
There will be races again. Someday. In the meantime, this whole situation puts everything in perspective, and makes us realize how fragile our existence really is. Everything can go wrong in a split second. As cyclists and triathletes, we've all experienced that.
A few weeks ago, I wiped out on my bike. Nothing major, just some road rash. But then I went home and read about another cyclist who had crashed and broken his collarbone. We all have a way of thinking things won't happen to us. But I finally got it through my head that it is better to ride inside, at least for now. The least we can do is to avoid taking risks and further overwhelming the medical system.
We are very lucky that cycling technology has evolved so far, in terms of making indoor training possible. Honestly, I've never been very good at technology, though Cisco at N+1 Cyclery was instrumental in not only getting me a smart trainer, but helping me get it set up and linking it to Zwift.
For those of you who are not familiar with Zwift, it is essentially a video game, where you can virtually race other cyclists on different courses around the world. Always the innovator in cycling technology, Bianchi is sponsoring a series of Zwift events, including the Giro Virtual, where people can virtually ride the best stages of the Giro d'Italia. These are wonderful opportunities for those of us whose life normally revolves around racing. And if it is frustrating to not be able to go to an actual race, we must only turn on the news to remember that these are first-world problems.
Like with training, there are no shortcuts in this pandemic, but there will eventually be a finish line. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and focusing on the next step.