Finding Optimism in Isolation and Uncertainty: How Athletes Are Going Solo
Dealing with stress and disappointment in a time of upheaval
From all of us here at Floyd’s of Leadville we sincerely hope that you, your friends, and your family are staying safe during this incredibly difficult time. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last few weeks it’s that we are nothing without our health. In this unprecedented time we’ve been taking things one day at a time. With our events calendar clear for the foreseeable future we can only hope that we’ll get to see all of you again on the road sometime soon when things return to normal.
In the meantime we wanted to impart a bit of motivation, wisdom, and advice from our elite athletes and ambassadors who have spent months preparing for a season that is quickly evaporating. We checked in with some of our ambassadors from CrossFit to cycling, motorcycle racing, and rock climbing to search for the silver lining in a season, and a world, filled with turmoil. Keep reading and we hope you’ll find a bit of everyday inspiration as you struggle to make sense of the current situation.
For me this is a time to disconnect and get back to the simple things in life. Staying healthy, taking my vitamins, eating good food and spending time with my family. Daily goals and chores have been essential to keeping me focused and positive. I’ve been doing morning yoga with the kids and clearing brush around the house. Focusing on what’s in my control has been helpful. It’s been just over one week since I was at Daytona International Speedway qualifying for the Daytona 200, the biggest race of my life. We were on track to achieve our goal. First practice I was second fastest out of 68 other competitors. The next session I was qualifier number one and I finished feeling relaxed and confident. After our session there was an announcement there would be a riders meeting at 4pm and the rest of the day was canceled. At the riders meeting it was announced they had postponed the event and will reschedule the race for October. The amount of preparation, logistics and money it takes to compete in America’s Race the Daytona 200 is huge. I could go down the road on how my dreams are crushed or how this or that happened and complain. This is just another test for me, my dreams aren’t crushed or over, they are just postponed. As a team we learned a lot, we know what we need to work on and have a new plan on how we can improve and come back stronger in October. My advice to other athletes? Keep grinding, anything worthwhile never comes easily. Write out your goals, then create a plan to crush them. Stay healthy, stick to the plan, be relentless in your preparation. Grow physically, mentally, spiritually. Try something new or different, never stop learning. Everyone is dealing with stress and my advice is to focus on the process and let go of the outcome.”
I am okay, and have been able to still manage to get outside into the backcountry here in Utah. It’s literally what’s keeping my sanity during this time. We installed a hangboard to train with while we can’t climb outside and the gyms have been closed too. Luckily, with the backcountry access that is so close to home, I’m able to snowshoe and hike in more remote areas! Reminding ourselves that we are blessed to be alive and healthy is what keeps us motivated looking forward. For anyone out there who’s struggling to stay hopeful, just know that every bad moment will pass, and that meditation and getting outside even to just see the sun will help so much. Yoga has kept me grounded and helps me stay aware of my inner world, and how I can continually move forward.
As somebody that was paralyzed and had my first sport taken away from I’ve learned that all adversity is equal. It’s not what we face that makes us or breaks us, it’s our attitude and how we deal with it that either breaks us or makes us stronger. The other point goes along with my definition of luck. Luck: when opportunity meets preparation. It seems like there are not a lot of opportunities right now with what’s going on, but there will be opportunities again. So spend this time to be prepared as you can so that when opportunity knocks, “luck” will be on your side.
My wife and I are at home. We created a home office for her and I am training solo outdoors, which is encouraged in CA. Like everyone, we are taking it day by day and trying to focus on long term plans and content creation while maintaining base fitness. I have a feeling we will have a peak season of races from mid-summer through November now. It’s hard to stay motivated without a goal. I think the goal is to stay generally healthy and fit for both your immune system and also to turn on the intensity when races are confirmed so you can begin preparation in a moment’s notice. I’m looking at a few alternative projects I hope to announce in the coming days. I’m also taking a chance to deal with some light home projects, such as getting the garden going now that it’s spring time. Although you may feel alone, it’s comforting knowing we are ALL in this together. No one is having a smooth run. Try to enjoy pleasures and escape that exercise can provide and just think about maintaining fitness until the goal event is tangible. The combo of exercise and post activity CBD has been really great in helping me chill out, clear the mental shrapnel and think about things logically.
The virus was in Stillwater [at MidSouth], but I made sure to wear my mud mask so I’m pretty sure all’s well but I’m keeping tight to home so as to prevent any spread just in case. Big wave surfers get the biggest endorphin high from riding the biggest waves. Those waves kill, and they change constantly, but surfers adjust and respond as quickly as possible based on the inputs and experience. We ride life waves all the time- this is no different. We adjust our course and cut our lines based on what we know as soon as we know it.
I was able to get to the MidSouth and cruise to a great finish there. Floyd’s was definitely a part of keeping me recovered and sane while building up to that and then recovering from it into a world gone haywire. Right now as the spring season comes into flux I’m trying to reset my mind by spending “me time” out on the bike using the fitness and spring weather to my advantage in exploration! Life stress may not show up as TSS in my training logs but it is a real thing. I’ve always been a lover of the big dumb ride! I’m confident that the love of bikes and of the outdoors will continue no matter what the other side of our present uncertainty looks like. So, while the racing landscape is uncertain, I’m certain I’ll want to enjoy those long summer days on bigger (and dumber) rides. May as well keep the pedals turning!
We are blessed and lucky that we have a thriving community of athletes to compete with here in the USA, but that isn’t the case everywhere, and hasn’t always been the case here. If you want to scratch the racing itch there are all kinds of ways to do so. There’s Strava, Zwift, or creating your own race laps and loops to compete with your local crew even while socially distant. It’s also a great time to clean out the garage, tune up your bike, learn a new skill like bleeding brakes or building wheels. Do your research and prepare your gear on solo events so you can strike when the iron is hot! There’s lots to do besides racing right now, this is a chance to get the inside line on the things that will make your racing even better. Control the controllables, and let the rest go. We can’t control which races are postponed or cancelled or how our schedule gets tossed out the window. What we can control is our training and recovery, we can control our relationships with sponsors and other athletes, and we can drive our focus deeper and farther without the hustle and bustle of packing and unpacking our bags for a busy springtime. Acknowledge that stress is part of the game. A good bike racer is good at managing risks; sometimes at breakneck speed. Right now our world is all stress and risk; manage that in an informed and practiced manner and you can and be confident the finish line will come into sight.
[Our entire Helle Bae Running Team] is hanging in there, taking it one day at a time, and encouraging each other from afar. Most races have been cancelled, become virtual or postponed to fall. It’s totally crazy but we have to keep going. Most of us are finishing our training plans if we were close; otherwise we are trying to find a new training rhythm with shelter-in-place. There are adjustments that come with this new phase of training/work/family life. We’ve been finding new ways to keep encouraging each other, there so many fitness story challenges circulating Instagram right now. If you’re sheltered in place do what you can. Make plans for now, make plans for the future and take time to relax. We can’t control what happens, but we can control our response. Everyone is in the same position right now #fasterinthefall. Sleep is one thing that we can think more carefully about while we are sheltered-in-place and it’s a huge factor in stress levels. CBD helps me feel relaxed, which definitely sets me up for success for achieving my sleep goals and ultimately feeling less stressed.