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We Train For Moments Like This: Turning Adversity Into Opportunity
A Forward by Colin Strickland
Hey y’all beautiful cycling people out there; remember that in many ways, we are the lucky ones in this state of dystopian limbo. We have one of humanity’s most ingenious coping mechanisms: the bicycle. With race goals up-ended and training plans seemingly ambiguous, let’s take a moment to remember why we race/ride bikes in the first place. If you are like me, I ride and train because it makes me feel good. By emptying myself into a ride, I can refill with positivity and a sense of well-being. I feel like each ride is a mini-adventure, where you travel through time and space seeing new things, and feeling entirely new sensations. I may have ridden the same route countless times, but each time is unique.
While you may feel aimless in terms of goals and competition, I encourage you to take the opportunity to try and deduce what you really love about riding, and dive into it. If you just love adventure, then go explore some trails [solo and if they’re open in your area] that your coach decided were pointless for improving your fitness. If you love suffering, then go out and suffer, as if for nothing other than the sake of suffering. See how you feel afterwards, and how you can refill the void left by that effort with a sense of accomplishment and peace. Maybe this is an opportunity to get back to basics, and to remember why we got hooked on cycling to begin with.
First, how are you? Are you ok?
Rachel Strait: We are doing well. The dogs are loving us being home! We are worried about our family members that are older but we know we can only control ourselves, so worrying will only cause stress and stress is never good.
Erin Laplander: Mostly yes. I, like almost everyone else, had many letdowns with A races getting canceled. I did deal with some upper respiratory discomforts last week that were a little nerve wracking due to the current times.
Noah Droddy: Yes! Obviously it’s not an ideal scenario, but I’m healthy so no big complaints from me.
How have you been dealing with this uncertainty?
Rachel Strait: “Riding has been helping a lot! Also, I know the news is important, but we try and only read it occasionally and not try to obsess over it.”
Erin Laplander: I may or may not have broken a few diet goals I had in mind. When my fifth race was canceled I decided to splurge since the end goals had changed so drastically. Outside of that, I have still been running although even that was limited to do my respiratory issues.
Noah Droddy: I think the biggest thing for me is knowing that, eventually, things will return to normal. I’m not thinking of specific timelines, just acknowledging that things are out of my control, but they will get better some day.
How has your season been affected?
Rachel Strait: All our races are currently put on hold, at least to May. I’m hoping that we will be able to race the next Crankworx race in Innsbruck, Austria in early June, but only time will tell.
Erin Laplander: I had set a goal to PR every race distance I was competing in this year: 3k, 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, 25k, marathon, 50 mile, and 100 mile. Luckily, I was able to succeed in the 3k/5k double PR, but now, my 1/2 marathon, 10k, and 25k have been moved/canceled/postponed. The 10k and 1/2 marathon, I have decided to do virtually at this point. The half attempt will be this Friday, and the 10k will be on either April 18 or 19.
Noah Droddy: My season was pretty much vaporized. Now I’m hoping the fall marathons will proceed as scheduled and keeping those goals in mind.
How has your training been affected?
Rachel Strait: So far training has been pretty good. The local jump trails, pump track and BMX track are closed, which is a big bummer! But we are getting creative.
Erin Laplander: I can’t do group long runs or workouts with our local running group, which has been sad. Luckily, we still keep in touch via Strava and our Facebook page.
Noah Droddy: The urgency that comes with races has left somewhat. But I also understand that race fitness is built over long periods of time. So if I want to run well in the fall, it’s important to lay that foundation now.
What are you doing to stay motivated?
Rachel Strait: Luckily Kyle and I have each other to train with so we help keep each other motivated! And seeing everyone’s home work outs on IG has really been helping.
Erin Laplander: It sounds cliche, but you have to just focus on the next thing. My marathon in July has not been canceled, yet, and I just got a new coach to put together a marathon training plan. I start the new plan on Monday, and it is structured differently than anything I have done before, so, I’m looking forward to a new challenge. I am also working on other things that typically ‘take the back burner’ like extra time working with my Pitbull rescue and closet/room organization. Even if it’s not athletic in nature, it will better my life as a whole.
Noah Droddy: I like to train. So now I’m framing it as my chance to get out of the house everyday. It’s one part of life that still feels normal, and that’s comforting right now whether I know when my next race is or not.
Any words of advice for the thousands of athletes sheltered in place and unable to compete?
Rachel Strait: We will get through this. Just stay positive and take it day by day. That’s all we can do!
Erin Laplander: In times like these, you HAVE to search for a positive. Spin something into a new light. Search for something that you personally can learn from or grow in during this time. We have been given a gift, even if it isn’t ideal, of time to use in a variety of ways. Don’t waste it.
Noah Droddy: It feels like a good time to ‘compete’ in more unorthodox ways. Maybe plan a route, and run a time trial. Try it again in a few weeks and see if you can go faster. Maybe go after some Strava records or personal bests. Find unique ways to challenge yourself outside of the normal organized events.
One thing you’d tell an athlete who’s dedicated their season to an event that may or may not take place in the coming months?
Rachel Strait: There will always be more events. Don’t stop building that awesome progression that you have created!
Erin Laplander: I understand your pain. I understand your grief. I understand your uncertainty. However, I also understand your drive. Your determination. Your strength. We’re all in this together. We’ve all lost things, but at the same time, those things haven’t gone away permanently. They WILL come back, and WHEN THEY DO, you will be stronger because of it. You’ve had more time to work on you. To perfect your sport. To perfect your recovery. To perfect your mindset. All these things we will learn from, and they WILL help you when that race day comes. Goals will never go away. The timeline just may get pushed back a little.
Noah Droddy: I would reassure them that the preparation they’ve done won’t be wasted. All that work will still benefit them on the other side of this shutdown. Missing these events will make starting the next one all the more meaningful.
What are your pro tips for dealing with stress?
Rachel Strait: Now is a great time to try meditation, yoga and breathing exercises! They have some amazing YouTube videos you can watch that are really helpful.
Erin Laplander: Talk to someone. Don’t bottle it up inside. I like to tell people to find someone else to focus on. Ask them how they are. Focusing outside of yourself has helped me cope with some depressive tendencies I struggle with on occasion. The more I focus on me and how I’m feeling, the more I sink lower.
Noah Droddy: I just think it’s important to acknowledge that some things are just out of our control. And that’s OK. We just have to go with the flow right now, do the best we can, treat each other well, and know that the events we love will be back eventually.