trainSharp: Lessons learnt from Lockdown

Connor Murphy from trainSharp writes there are lessons highlighted by lockdown and in this article, he looks at how you can use these moving forwards

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trainSharp: Lessons learnt from Lockdown

Currently, we are in lockdown with new social distancing measures being put in place, which still remains incredibly important. We can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel though and are beginning to accept the new ‘normal’.

But what can we learn from this situation, both as a coach and as an athlete? In this article, I will pick out some lessons which have been highlighted by lockdown and how you can use these moving forwards.

The first note to highlight, from the angle of being a cycling coach, is the importance of being part of a team. At trainSharp we are a team of coaches; there is not just one of us, and we all have different strengths, experiences and expertise, which proved to be vital when the lockdown situation began in the UK in June.

This situation was one which was so novel, there was not a single coach on the planet who had experienced it before, not one! As a coach, your role, in summary, is to help an athlete towards achieving their goal(s), so when those goals are moved, the plan must change. It’s not necessarily that the goals have changed, because they haven’t, they have just been postponed.

Before lockdown began, we as a team at trainSharp had numerous discussions about how best to approach the situation and how we could use it as a positive to benefit athletes performance. The consensus was effectively to move back a few training blocks, reduce the load and build again, whilst setting smaller goals to keep motivation high. Having a team here to bounce ideas around proved fundamental in creating the right plan to keep riders moving forwards.

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We are always learning
As a coach, or anyone working with athletes, it is your responsibility to continue learning. If you do not, you will get stuck in a rut which will in turn affect what you prescribe to athletes.

It is our duty to understand what’s new, what works and what doesn’t. As I mentioned above, when this situation arose, there was not a single coach in the world that had dealt with this before. Whilst this is the case, there are experiences which can be drawn upon, finding similarities to generate an appropriate plan. This highlights the fact that, no matter how much you think you know, as a coach or as an athlete, there is always more to learn, there will always be something new.

As a coach who has been to university, I’d like to think I was relatively well read in areas sport science. I however certainly do not believe I know everything! Aristotle said, ‘The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know’. This can be extended to the athlete too; it is not just the coach who should continue learning. In this period, lots of us have had the opportunity to really understand what motivates us.

For some, it is clear that they are motivated by racing and some motivated by improved fitness. So you need to figure out what motivates you and use that to your advantage moving forwards. So, the morale of the story here, is that continued learning is of upmost importance!

For the majority, enjoyment should be everything
Another point, which lockdown has highlighted, is as an amateur cyclist, enjoyment should be everything. This applies to the majority of us, whereby we ride our bikes because we enjoy it, not because we are paid to do so.

This notion does not just apply whilst in lockdown but applies to every aspect of our riding. For me personally, I enjoy the process of training. Yes, there are sessions I don’t necessarily enjoy, but generally completing a hard session gives me a sense of satisfaction. I enjoy training hard and seeing performance improvements.

Not only that, but I enjoy racing well and giving my best effort, so if I need to train hard to do that, then that’s part of it. But with no races in the calendar, an opportunity was presented, whereby it wasn’t absolutely crucial to nail VO2 or Threshold interval. Time was then available to just go out and ride, ride with no purpose, smell the flowers and enjoy the views!

I think this is something a lot of us have taken for granted, just the ability to go out and ride the bike, be free and explore. Moving forwards then, this is something we all need to remember …. we should enjoy what we do.

We all race too much and training is where the improvements are made
Lockdown presented an interesting scenario, whereby all racing was off. Typically, as cyclists, we lay the foundations of our training during the winter months and race during the spring and summer months.

This was now not the case, which presented a massive opportunity. To continue training throughout this period was effectively a double build. Most of us built foundations through the winter and could now build on those foundations again. Generally speaking, racing week in week out, means that there is no opportunity for quality and volume of training, so condition will typically decrease.

This is therefore the perfect explanation as to why some riders will come out of lockdown in excellent shape. We don’t have to look too far in order to see how this works in practice, after all, it’s why the top pros generally won’t race all of the grand tours.

The lesson here then, is that if you want to be in the best possible shape, cut back on the racing and build on the quality and consistency of your training.


In summary, we should constantly be thinking about the lessons we can understand, learn and then move forwards with, continual improvement is what we are after! If you need help putting these lessons into practice, contact for more information regarding coaching packages.

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