The Occasional Athlete

A cyclist trying to be fast(-ish) again

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Change of plan

Well, one day into my master plan and guess what? I got sick! This means a change of plan. It’s not ideal but training through illness is never a good idea so I’ll rest up and get cracking next week.

This early setback did get me thinking about how I’ve handled adversity in the past. It’s varied a lot over the years as I’ve matured both as an athlete and as a person. Teenage Paul would have got pissed off, tried to ignore it and trained anyway, eventually becoming too sick or injured to carry on. Early-twenties Paul would have been just as pissed off but had the sense to ease off and rest up - I was quite used to injuries by that point to learned so deal with them!

Late-twenties Paul was a bit more chill. He was enjoying training and the odd race but had other things going on in life - primarily a PhD - so stopped training and dedicated all his resources to getting better. The Paul of six months ago would have simply thought “whatever” and stuffed his face with cake!

What about the Paul of three days ago? Well, I think my current attitude is much like late-twenties Paul. I have plenty of other stuff going on - career, family, etc. - and I’ve learned from experience carrying on regardless is a terrible idea. So, I’m taking it easy and have adjusted my training plan accordingly. Assuming I’m better in time, The Plan 2.0 starts Monday!

Whilst reflecting on this I noticed a pattern - the more focussed I was on training and racing the worse I reacted to setbacks. When I was a teenager racing was pretty much all I cared about, so when I was unable to train it was a big deal. As I grew up and realised I wasn’t fast enough to be a pro I became more relaxed about the whole thing. As a result I had a much healthier relationship with sport.

I do wonder how do professional athletes deal with adversity. After all, by definition their lives are dominated by their sport so sickness or injury must be a massive upheaval. On the other hand, they have a full-time support network on hand - coaches, doctors, physios, and sports psychologists - to help carry them through and keep them in the right headspace. Perhaps this helps them deal with adversity better than the over-keen amateur. If any pros are reading this, let me know how you cope!