Elite Tom Bishop’s snowy January training

Sometimes even elite athletes have to deviate from the plan. Here's GB's Tom Bishop on training motivation in lockdown 3 and how to cope when weather or motivation gets in the way of your training plan...

Image credit: Sian Rainsley

Sunday morning, one cold weekend in January. ‘New year, new me’ is getting tested this week. The festive season is over and we’re straight into another national lockdown, a big challenge to fresh goals and motivations. Yes, elite athletes struggle with motivation just like the rest, however, I give myself a chance and here are a few bits of advice I’ve taken along with me…

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Tom’s motivation tips:

  • If you don’t want to train, you don’t have to. Try and be productive in another way, even if it’s cracking on with a job, like cleaning your bike or trainers. At least once a block, I sack-off a session in my plan. There could be several reasons why: health, tiredness, niggle, or even weather and safety. That’s ok, a lot of work goes into training and we’re allowed a bit of leeway as long as most of our training is compliant!
  • Establish a weekly routine with a training partner, but still stick to current guidance on social distancing. Good news, meeting up with one other person outside your household is currently still allowed, so why not arrange one to two days a week to collaborate and get a session done together.
  • Get some fresh new kit! This always excites me to get out the door and train. Looking good in new kit makes you feel good and especially if it’s something that you know will add the edge to your performance, like the latest release of the racing flat Asics Metaracer with brand new carbon and foam technology.
  • Adapt training. We’ve had some challenging weather this month and it has made conditions treacherous. With hospitals on a tipping point, we need to do our bit to stay out of A&E, so making the right call and sometimes not training or changing your session is the best option. For instance, instead of that interval run session on the road when it’s icy, why not head to a trail or some grass pitches and do it there. Maybe ride on the indoor trainer and do a Zwift race or session instead of getting out and doing a long ride in the snow.

It’s a snowy Sunday morning

So where does this leave me? It is Sunday morning and it’s one of those days. There’s snow outside and I’m pretty tired from a tough week of training – I had to adapt yesterday’s run session and turn it into an indoor brick session due to weather conditions. The original plan was a long run into a long ride; a big day. But safety first and I’ve decided to scrap the long ride. Even a long run first thing isn’t safe due to icy pavements.

So it’s a chilled morning, getting a few jobs done, including writing this article, and the adapted plan is a long run in the afternoon with my training partner, Tyler Smith. That will give us a bit more time for the ice to thaw and we’re also planning on making up from the compromised session yesterday too. It’s a nice change actually and I’m looking forward to mixing up the long run with some tempo intervals. I’ve got my indoor trainer set up for when I get back in for a recovery spin too. It’s no long ride, but being off the back of a long run, there will still be some aerobic adaptation going on.

Sometimes you have to change your plan

It’s 2:30pm and I’ve got a fresh pair of trainers on, the roads are safe thankfully and we’re jogging out easy for the first 30 minutes. Tyler had an indoor bike session this morning and is feeling it, so we’re on 5min/k or 8min/m to begin. Meanwhile, we debrief the week’s training, talking numbers and ideas is a good way to warm up.

The first rep is 20mins straight through at a solid clip, imagine marathon pace here. Breathing controlled, efficient arm movement and light feet. The rest of the session carries on like this and it’s a success, no less because we haven’t slipped on ice and we still have daylight. 22km in 90 minutes is something we wouldn’t usually do on a Sunday, yet sometimes it requires a change of plan to do different things.

I’m back in the house and straight onto the indoor trainer to finish up for the day. Just an hour easy spinning with some cadence drill and sprints to keep it engaging. The day wasn’t as planned but it feels good to be pragmatic about the situation and get work done all the same. Sometimes you just need a morning to relax and reassess so you can complete your training effectively.

Follow Tom on Instagram at @tomwbish for more tips and training fun.

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Image credit: Sian Rainsley