Shifting Movement: Fiona Morris
Athletes are amongst the most adaptable people you will meet, they push limits under extreme stress, they compete in extreme conditions for extended periods of time and they bounce back from injury and setbacks faster than most. 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.
An integral part of the MAAP CX Team for several seasons now, Fiona Morris was gearing up for the start of the Australian Cyclocross season, which is currently in jeopardy. Having recently dealt with the bushfires that surrounded her home town of Bright in Victoria, she now finds herself juggling life as an athlete, running her own Marketing Automation agency and also working as a cycling performance coach.
What impact has the coronavirus had on you and your training and racing?
It is pretty obvious that we won’t have a CX season this year, so my immediate goal of winning a National Series CX race is off the table. Instead, I will now have the luxury of time to work harder on some of my process goals which will, in essence, help me achieve my larger goal.
I’m missing the anticipation that comes with an approaching race season; the excitement of the team, teammates, racing, travel. So next year should be twice as exciting.
We have a huge variety of where and what to ride in the High Country, so I have just been enjoying whatever bike I feel like riding, road, MTB, gravel. With no racing on the cards, there is no reason to train high intensity, which is what I would normally be doing at this time of the year, so instead, I’m focused on those base miles and endurance sessions, so mixing it up makes it a lot more fun.
I have a few favourite podcasts so I wait until I’m riding some gravel, away from cars, and listen to a podcast. It gets me excited to head out the door. It's also great for long trainer sessions too... before you know it the first hour is up and then the second... and suddenly your session is done!
How have you adapted to training under new social distancing regulations?.
We are currently allowed to ride outside, however our local group ride made a collective decision to call it quits last week. Although I’m lucky I have a live-in training buddy, Garry, so I do have someone I can ride with. But it’s a fine line living, working and training together so sometimes we ride at different times of the day to just give ourselves some alone time.
We have also just started a “race” with all the people normally on our local group ride using our GPS data.
We have set some courses and there is everything from time trials, to hill climbs, to mountain biking courses and then everyone rides it on their own. We will have a winner of each “stage” and an overall winner. It’s just a bit of fun but will keep the motivation and morale high, keeping us all connected.
I still have a business to run, and it’s been really busy at the moment, which I am incredibly thankful for as it’s one less thing to worry about. So I have been putting a lot of time and energy into that. Some days my mind is probably over engaged and I have to remember to take a break and do something else.
How are you staying connected with teammates and friends during this time?
Our team of 4 riders is pretty tight, or so I like to think. We live all over Australia so are used to being spread out, we have a group chat and keep up to date on instagram. As for the cycling community, our local group has a Facebook page which is where our “race” is being run from, not to mention the group chats which are always a laugh. So that should help to keep us engaged and connected.
Not being able to finish our training rides at the local cafe is hard. If I am honest, the only thing I have 'panic-purchased' has been coffee beans! But my local roaster, Sixpence Coffee is still roasting and does online orders and he will be organising a local delivery where he will drop off to our doorstep! And I have a Moccamaster so my coffee situation is sorted!
Take us through your adapted week of training during COVID-19
We are currently allowed to ride outside, however our local group ride made a collective decision to call it quits last week. I’m lucky I have a live-in training buddy in my husband Garry, so unlike most people I do have someone I can ride with. But it’s a fine line living, working and training together... so sometimes we ride at different times of the day to just give ourselves some alone time.
He's an example of my current week plan, while I can still ride outside. If you’re only on the trainer then go for a shorter time frame as the trainer is more physically taxing as you never really freewheel, 25-30% less is about the sweet spot.
Monday 1-hour spin, low heart rate, high cadence. Flush the legs after a (hopefully) big weekend.
Tuesday 2 x 30 mins at LT1 - 10 minutes between + warm up and cool down. LT1 is endurance pace, its not really hard but it’s not easy either.
Wednesday MTB session - I’ve just been heading out and riding and including some harder efforts on short climbs. Indoors or on the road, you could structure the session to be 4-8 (depending on your fitness level) x 4-minute firm efforts, think high tempo - low threshold. So you want to be breathing hard - but not maxing yourself out. And include these sporadically throughout the duration of the 1.5- 2.5hr ride.
Thursday 3 x 30 mins at LT1 - 10 minutes between + warm up and cool down.
Friday 1 hour spin, same as monday.
Saturday 2-3 hours on gravel - including a 1 hour long climb. Just riding to feel, usually sitting in that LT1 zone because im looking at building my base fitness.
2-4 hours. A good solid ride, including a few 20minute climbs, giving it a bit of gas just on the climbs. And also working on sustained power. This would be my typical weekend ride with a group of friends...now it will just be me and my husband, Gazz.
LT1 explained: LT1 is simply a zone, you can use power and heart rate for this. Two simple ways to find out what yours is: If you use power: it’s roughly equivalent to 64% of your V02 max, simple way to find your V02 max is to do a 5min effort as hard as you can sustain for 5mins. Whatever the result you end up with then calculate 64% and there is your LT1.
For the heart rate side, max heart rate - resting heart rate is about right too. The idea is to not let your heart rate go above LT1 - so if you can’t hit the power number but you’re maxing out your heart rate then back it off. Adaptation happens over time and you will actually start to hit higher power numbers with a lower heart rate.