This is my first article which is not about racing, which is uncharted territory for me.
With so much information going around about how to ‘ISO’ correctly, whatever it is that means. I thought I let you know what I’ve been up to, what’s changed for me and take a holistic approach at things, using some of the knowledge learnt as an Exercise Physiologist.
As an Exercise Physiologist, 90% of our job is behavioural change. We prescribe specific exercise to those with chronic disease and injuries to illicit a positive outcome or an adaptation. The thing about exercise is that no one can do it for you, and so selling on the how’s and why’s is where things get tricky. You can discuss statistics and educate the client all you like, but 99% of the time it won’t translate to movement. You’ve got understand the individual’s behaviours and motivators, because everyone has something that gets them out of bed each morning.
Human behaviours have always been an interest of mine and I love trying to learn and understand how people ‘tick’, particularly athletes.
This is why I think during this global pandemic, there is a lot to learn about ourselves. The majority of the population, not just athletes have had the comfort rug of structure and direction pulled from beneath them and is why I believe there has never been a better time to gain some life perspective.
As athletes we have a lot to learn from the general population. I think it is safe to say they are a lot of athletes pacing the hallways right now, trying to come to terms with the fact of the unknown. Athletes are often type A personalities, typically not great at unwinding, with most athletes admitting the rest day is the most difficult of days. Athletes literally find it hard resting and it is what sometimes makes the difference between being a good athlete vs. a great one. Athletes just want to work harder all the time.
This is where I believe athletes have the space to learn and can look towards the rest of the population to learn about the other, ‘fruits of life’. There has literally never been a better time to explore Sunday sleep in’s, cross training, cooking or whatever extra-curricular activities you’ve been unable to do over these years, because I can guarantee until retirement you will probably never get a 6-month opportunity for an offseason (one which is injury free). I am not saying stop riding and lose all the adaptations you’ve worked tirelessly to achieve, but to just ride for the hell of it and for your own health and wellbeing. If you can unwind now, then winding up when the season resumes will be so much easier as your bottle of motivation will be brimming.
I recently attended a webinar by Olympic Sports Psychologist, Gayelene Clews. She has worked with many top athletes including Matt Hayman and recommended athletes with uncertain seasons should focus on these outcomes.
- Consolidate on metal strength strategies.
- Identify current physical strengths and weaknesses.
- Have the offseason now and then start training with a holistic approach.
An interesting perspective
For everyone else (99% of the population) there has never been a better time to exercise. Number one point being the relationship to mental wellbeing and exercise. Exercise releases mood enhancing endorphins and is a known stress reliever. Significantly enough, that it is classified as class one prevention and treatment tool for anxiety and depression, known to produce outcomes at the same level if not better than pharmacological interventions. This time of unknown, can rightfully draw out feelings of anxiety and stress and is why exercise has never been more important.
Number two is time, the number one limiting factor for most people and now potentially for good or bad reasons you may have more of it! Make your new day structured by including exercise and set about new physical challenges. Healthy habits formed now may be come healthy habits later. Identify your strength and weakness just like the athletes would, then write down some goals and challenges you’d like to achieve. This could range from Strava segments, gym exercises to simply increasing the amount of days consecutive on the bike. Look to athletes for ideas for this and take bits and pieces from their training that you would like to try. This could range from gym, skills, nutrition, or mental training, just chose what your most interested in or what you’d like to improve. We’ve got great ambassadors from Merida bikes including Aussie and international superstars doing good things online including;
- Izzy Flint @izflint
- Holly Harris @hollyharris_7
- Jose Antonio Hermida @josehermida
- Guun-Rita Dahle @mtbgunnrita
Just around my local town in Bendigo I’ve been super impressed with the amount of people getting out and exercising, with bike paths and trails as busy as ever. Also cool to see families out together and I grantee a few bikes have had the cobwebs blown off them this Autumn. By all means I’m endorsing meeting the isolation laws and avoiding taking risks. But also recommend concentrating on what you CAN DO at the moment and go out and get your daily dose of medicine (bike riding). The Australian Activity Guidelines recommends at least 30mins a day for adults of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But by all means, some exercise is better than nothing and can be broken up into smaller blocks to make more achievable.
So, what have I been doing this ISO?
- Firstly took a few weeks off and have now started to loosely structure training until late May, where I plan to build into the new season. With goal to return to racing in late August.
- I have created new gym programs and developed my exercise bank, experimenting with new movements.
- Set new goals and evaluated strengths and weaknesses with Mentor Coach Justin Morris (MindMatters Coaching). These goals are kept on my pinboard at home in clear vison for a reminder.
- Learning to accept the current situation for what it is (continual process).
- Planning of new adventures and challenges including bike packing trips and exploring new locations around home.
- Product testing on my Merida NinetySix such as tyres, bar height and different suspension/tyre pressure tunes.
- Have commenced work as an Exercise Physiologist at the Kyneton Hospital working on the Heathy Minds and Movement Program.
- Upskilling my learning, recently completing a course on Exercise Oncology and beginning new course in the management of tendinopathies.
Recent adventures lately have been spent checking out new gravel roads on my Merida Mission CX and testing new set up on the NinetySix.
I hope this article provides you with some ideas for this period whatever level rider you may be, or perhaps got you thinking of your own choices during this period.
Feel free to get in contact via email if you have questions on how you can be active during this period and I’ll be happy to advise where available.