Shifting Movement: David Williams
While most of us are experiencing disruption to our regular riding routines, elite athletes are facing great uncertainty around training, travel and racing, all potential threats to their livelihoods and ultimately to their identity as professional cyclists.
We are continuing our commitment to the art and performance of cycling by bringing you some stories directly from our MAAP athletes, on how they are training, staying motivated, staying connected and sharing advice on how they are adapting to the demands of training during social distancing restrictions.
David Williams is a member of InForm TM Insight MAKE, a leading Australian NRS team with a strong list of U19, U23 and seasoned riders. His next goals were meant to be the Tour of Brisbane and the Oceania Championships, but racing is currently on hold.
He's hoping to defend his U23 NRS Leader's Jersey from the first race of the season, but until racing resumes he's looking for ways to stay motivated, adapting his training and focussing on his Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science studies at university.
What impact has the coronavirus had on you and your racing?
It’s obviously pretty hard to set some goals in place at the moment, but I’d like to think that the goals I had in place before COVID-19, having started the National Road Series strongly can still be achieved once racing resumes. I’d like to continue my progression and I’d really like to take a stage win or two this year.
After the first round I was lucky to take the U23 Series Leader jersey which was a bit of a surprise, so I’d love to really challenge for that for the remainder of the season.
I think the major thing with COVID-19 at the moment is the uncertainty over races. All of the races in the immediate future have been either cancelled or postponed. This includes the Oceania Championship which was a big goal of mine. I’m still optimistic about races returning this year but if not, there’s always 2021.
How have you adapted to training under new social distancing regulations?.
I’m pretty lucky that Australia hasn’t gone into a full lockdown yet so I’m still able to get outside and ride. At the moment it’s more about freshening up and trying to reset for the races will go ahead. With the Australian season being pretty much 12 months long, starting with Nationals in January and racing continuing through till December, it can be pretty hard to find time to have a bit of downtime, so now is the perfect time to have some rest.
It’s also the perfect time to go out and explore and do some unstructured riding. I think it’s really healthy to do every now and then and not worry about what power you are doing or what hill you are going to do your next effort on.
We stripped all the intensity out of our programs as the races within the next two months are postponed, so we have adapted our load to be about doing base training. For example, I really wanted to do this 240km route through Kinglake, Healesville, Mount Donna Buang and the Dandenong Ranges, so we put that in the plan. However, there’s pretty much no racing until August now, I’ll still head out a couple of times per week while I can and ride some trails to keep sane.
I’m still motivated to ride. However, the focus has changed a little bit. Instead of being driven to be the best I can be, come race day, I’m more just excited to ride for the fun of it. I’ve been really enjoying doing some unstructured rides and going on some gravel rides to change it up and keep it all fresh. Find something new and fresh to do. Whether it be going out gravel riding or the mountain bike or doing that ridiculous route you’ve always wanted to do but never have found a way to make it work before.
I think if you are really struggling with motivation, just take time off the bike. I find that whenever I take a bit of time away from the bike and the coach tells me to have two weeks off, I start to miss it after a few days and can’t wait for that two weeks to be up so I can ride again.
How are you staying connected with teammates and friends during this time?
Australia just put restrictions on cafes so they can only do takeaway at the moment, which means our regular cafe rides are on hold. Off the bike, I’m good friends with a lot of the team so we have our group chats and keep in contact regularly. We were able to head out for rides a couple of times a week, but we’ve just been told we have to put those on hold and can only exercise with our own household.
I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science so that is taking up a fair bit of my spare time and keeping me occupied. It can be hard to juggle Uni and racing so if nothing else, this gives me a good opportunity to get some quality study in.
I just miss racing honestly, I’m pretty lucky that my life is pretty much the same as it was before
The only real difference is we can’t race at the moment which I think is a big part of any cyclist’s life, so it’ll be nice to get back to that.
Take us through your adapted week of training during COVID-19
Here’s an example of my training taken from the week before my break started. I think it shows well that we aren’t doing a whole lot of specific efforts at high intensities. If you break it down there are 3 days of efforts, one of which is light, one day of endurance with the rest just being coffee shop rides to stay fresh. Now isn’t the time to be training flat out trying to reach your peak, you can save that for when you know you have a race or a solid bunch ride where you can put your friends to the sword.
Monday 1hr Recovery ride on the trainer, focus on middle zones
Tuesday 1hr Recovery ride on the trainer, focus on middle zones
Wednesday 4hrs Sustained Aerobic Performance with a 90min block at 80% of your FTP
Thursday 1hr Recovery ride on the trainer, focus on cadence and pedal technique
Friday 2hrs Sprints Session with efforts: 6 x 20 seconds max, 10 seconds seated, 10 seconds unseated
Saturday 3hrs fast ride, normally this would be a funch ride like the Hell Ride in Melbourne, but a good replacement would be a Zwift race, with 1.5-2hrs length
Sunday Sundays are about endurance, if you're able to ride solo outside go for distance, you're really want to get 6+ hrs in. This is where I would throw in my 240km ride.