thinking about coaching? Get stronger by training with sms

The second half of the Volta a Portugal -cycling tips from the road

-By: Tomas Swift-Metcalfe

Last modified: September 16, 2013

Volta a Portugal -cycling tips from the road

The second half of the Volta a Portugal went badly for me. I was let down by several factors, mostly health problems. Aggravating factors were a high workload and of course tough psychological factors associated with a sudden drop in form. Yet there are lessons to take away and that you can use when things don’t quite go according to plan…

As such this post deals -mostly- with psychological aspects of racing and doing sport when things aren’t  going well.

Keep positive

There’s are certain things which are out of our control as athletes. Bad luck, health and the actions of other people are out of our control. We can deal with the rest and attenuate the possible ill effects of the factor out of our control. This is possible with thorough preparation. The more you prepare, the more details you take care of, the less likely things are to go wrong. ‘Bad luck’ is unavoidable, but you can certainly affect how much damage it does.

It’s important to keep a positive outlook for as long as possible during an event as -some times- opportunity shows itself when you less expect it and sudden recoveries do happen. It’s better to tough it out a bit and realize that your mind plays tricks on you.

Keep positive
keeping positive can be difficult when our form fails us.


Preparation for an event goes beyond training. I mentioned in the previous paragraph that bad luck could be attenuated and an example of that is getting sick. You get sick because you contract an illness. Commonly a cold or something. You can minimize the likelihood of this happening with basic hygiene, avoiding places like school or public spaces where there’s a higher likelihood of picking something up. Avoiding going too deep in training -you want to go as fast as possible in the race, not in training just before it. You don’t need to train to the limit, you need to perform at the limit… There are many things to get right in the run up to an event.

Things to consider are:


  • Avoiding typical dietary mistakes, such as eating foods with raw eggs.
  • Understanding food choice: when to eat what and how much.
  • Understanding how us of the wrong thing, like alcohol are okay.
  • Ensuring an adequate nutrient intake.


  • Close to an event avoiding places where infections proliferate.
  • Washing hands, food -basic hygene.


  • Training well isn’t about training as hard as possible, but training as well as possible -follow your schedule as best you can because it’s been designs with certain ideas in mind to benefit you on race day.
  • Listen to your body. It’s easy to get carried away -especially training groups. When things feel bad, stop. Going too deep, too often will cause more harm than good.


  • Rest means general sloth. Lots of people can’t just switch off and lay down in front of the TV… But it’s best.
  • Stress must be avoided wherever possible.
  • Gentle walks, cycles, easy and relaxing activities contribute to good rest.
  • A quiet environment is important.
  • A clean environment with the minimum of allergens and pollutants is important.

The pyramid of performance.

A good performance in sport is based on a solid base that includes many factors:

  • Performance on the day.
  • Diet, training.
  • Sleep, motivation, ambition, work, family.
  • Life stability, calm, security, happiness.

When you’re free to focus your energy freely on your sport and training complement you’ll lifestyle you’ll have the conditions to perform optimally.

Final Note

When an event doesn’t go as planned, it’s important to look at it pragmatically. For example if you’re sick, is it a good idea to continue? Is it worth taking certain risks? These questions and many others have to be answered with a cold mind. Factors such as effort and time invested just have to be ignored.

When analysing a performance in an event or even an entire season, give it a lot of time. You’ll never be able to be objective in assessing your performance in the heat of the moment.

Did you enjoy this post?

Sign up to my newsletter (sent about once a month) to keep up to date with all the latest training tips and info from the Algarve.
* = required field

Leave a Reply