Submitted via Guest Blogger, Laura Brown, RBC Olympian & Olympic Bronze Medalist
So you’ve had the 2020 Ride to Conquer Cancer circled on your calendar with a fundraising plan and a goal to be the best version of yourself you can be on those two days. But maybe you're asking yourself, now what do I do?
Below are some of my tips for staying motivated when preparing for a postponed event:
Stay positive and keep the hope
In 2009, the Pan American Cycling Championships (a very important qualifying and points collection competition during my Olympic career) was postponed due to the H1N1 Pandemic. Having a goal of winning a medal at the Olympic Games since I was a 10 year old gymnast remained, but bumps in the road like this one certainly derailed me momentarily. What was the point of training now for something like might not ever happen?
When your biggest goal of the year is affected by something that is entirely out of your control, such as a pandemic, it’s important to stay optimistic, revisit your goals,) and go back to the drawing board. Successful people in sport and otherwise are those that can pivot, be agile, and adapt in tumultuous and nebulous times. Trust that any changes you make in your routine or preparation will continue to serve you and the people surrounding you. Believe in yourself and each other. The time will come when you will all get to shine.
The 2020 Ride to Conquer Cancer has changed form and will be held virtually. Now is a good time to revisit your goal setting (if you haven’t read my first blog post on goal-setting, check it out here), your pathway and system, and tweak your compass to better suit this new style of event. During uncertain and extraordinary times like these, it’s even more important to check in regularly with yourself (Am I doing okay? Am I on track? How can I be better? What benefits or obstacles am I encountering now?). Again, mini goals, rewards, and a countdown calendar can help keep motivation and emancipation high.
Having a goal and sticking to it is really just the process of building good habits. Having a routine is key to being a successful athlete and your daily routine is something you have control over, and what you can use to become more grounded and in control. Take time to plan your daily and weekly schedule ahead of time. I like to keep a journal to plan my day out with my goals in mind, track my daily progress, and reflect on the positive actions that are bringing me closer to my goals. Be sure to also schedule and plan in times of rest to take a breather (in terms of training, we get fitter in our sleep, but more on that later).
Enjoy the journey
Process is everything. This is where we invest and spend the most time and energy and so it is very important that we are actually enjoying what we are doing! During the H1N1 Pandemic I realized I really do fundamentally LOVE to ride my bike and so I went back to basics - I just rode my bike for fun for a while. Sometimes we never reach our goal and so we must enjoy the journey. The Ride is now virtual, and that’s okay! Get creative with your training and have fun in the meantime. Mix it up - schedule in a local hike or join Zwift. Cross training is an excellent way to stay healthy and get fit - not to mention it’s fun and can snap us out of our monotonous training regime that we sometimes get into a rut with. Do what you love, love what you do.
Now more than ever we need each other. In a time when we are encouraged to be physically distant, connecting with like-minded training groups (virtual or otherwise), training partners, and people to lean on is so important. We can help lift each other up, stay on track, and hold each other accountable - I know I am more likely to do my training when I am surrounded by my teammates. Aim to stay connected to your community however you possibly can, and consider encouraging your team to take part in the virtual event with you.
Set yourself up for success! What stands in the way of my goals? Is it possible to make different choices to reduce this friction? What holds me back or what roadblocks or speed bumps do I anticipate? Do my choices move me towards or away from my goal? We can’t avoid everything, but we can try to anticipate obstacles or conflict and plan to deal with or avoid them all together. When Pan Ams was postponed, I lost motivation to train. Some things I did to inspire me to make the choices I wanted to make were to set up my environment to make it as easiest as possible to achieve my daily goals. What I mean by this is set your bike up on your trainer and leave it there, have glasses of water or a water bottle on you at all times, stock your fridge pantry full of healthy food, have your workout clothes laid out the day before. Moderation is key and sometimes we need to wiggle in order to accommodate the other valuable parts of our life. Try to strike a balance and aiming to create healthy habits is what’s most important.
Focus on what you can contol
The postponement and possible cancellation in 2009 of one of the biggest events of the season taught me many lessons that I carried with me for the next decade as an athlete. It was a great exercise in controlling the controllables. To do this you need to focus and set your intention and attention on what you have control of (e.g. the food you put in your body, how many minutes you bike for). And then on the flip side, you need to accept or let go and relinquish emotions tied to the ‘what ifs’ and what is not under your control (e.g. will there be a second wave of the virus, what if the weather is bad).
By focusing on what you have control over, you can better cope with any anxiety or other emotions caused by uncertainty or change. This mindset will set you up to prepare for your big event in the best way possible. Controlling the controllables is a common and essential skill of an Olympic athlete. And when I say skill I mean skill. Like any skill in life, you need to practice this and create good thought habits. The more you can practice, the more resilient you will be when faced with inevitably stressful times in the future.