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Riding When Stressed

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Welcome to the ADAM COPLEY: PERSONAL TRAINING blog. Each week we will be discussing topics within cycling fitness and nutrition. Giving you all the tools, you need to become fitter, faster and stronger on the bike. I love covering these topics and am always open to your suggestions so if you have anything you want to ask, get in touch (details at the bottom) and ask your questions.

With that being said, lets get into it!

This week I want to talk about RIDING WHEN STRESSED: This is an interesting topic as the UK is coming out of lockdown, gym’s have been allowed to re-open and I am now faced with the task of rebuilding my business after 4 months of operating on a different level. This is an incredibly exciting time for me but also a stressful one!

I want you to relate to this blog, do you put yourself under stress when preparing for a race? Do you find your work stressful? Does your partner make riding stressful? This week I am going to explain stress to you, and share ways you can manage stress and calm your body down.

What is stress?

Stress is the name given to anything that depletes physical and mental energy from our body. It is important to note that while there are many forms of stress, both physically and mentally. The human body only deals with stress in one way. Every form of stress depletes energy from the human body, ultimately leading to us feeling run down, tired, and frustrated.

Physical Stress:

Stress from training and riding is physical stress, and it depletes our energy levels by taking the calories we have consumed as fuel, if we do not replenish these calories then we will be put under more stress as our bodies can’t physically recover. Remember though the body still deals with this as stress and it must be managed, albeit in a different way to managing mental stress.

We manage physical stress by eating, and by stretching and mobilising our body as we have covered in blogs before. This allows us to recover from the stress.

One of the best things I learned as a coach was this: “Think of yourself as a prescriber of stress. You are working with the athlete to deliver stress on their body. You must then work with them on how to recover from that stress. And manage the athlete prior to training by assessing how much stress they are currently under before taking them through any physical stress during their training session”.


If you have ridden over 100 miles in the four days prior to me seeing you, would I be doing my job properly if I put you through an intense lifting session? Or would focusing on functional movement and mobility be more beneficial?

Remember the goal is to improve performance, this does not always come from battering people so they can barely stand.

When looking at your energy levels and the stress you have put your body through take note of everything mentioned above. Then you can plan rides that are more relaxed, or intense based on how your body feels.

Mental Stress:

I don’t care how mentally strong a person is, everyone has their limit! Mental stress is something a lot of athletes overlook and due to this are confused as to why their ride suddenly went down the drain. I often attribute bonking to mental stress over poor nutrition and hydration as it sometimes “just happens”. There is a reason for everything.

Mental stress comes from so many angles in our life:

  • Blue light from phones, screens.

  • Relationships.

  • Work and business.

  • Family life.

  • Time.

  • Negative energy from people online.

All ways that stress can play a part on your mind and there is only so much your brain can take before it goes into melt down. Riding when mentally stressed isn’t a good idea as all the little things will seem increased.

Making mistakes on a trail, cars pulling out on you, something not quite right with your bike. All things that will blow up when you are stressed.

Not to mention the worn down feeling your body can get when you go completely flat and no longer want to be out on the bike.

Managing this mental stress is key to having a good relationship with riding as we all know the pain that comes from a bad ride.

When looking at your mental state ask yourself how you have felt and think of what will help:

For me, I spend a lot of time in the digital world and with people so switching off is a case of meditation. I like to sit and just listen to the trees blow and birds tweet. I will often stretch and throw some yoga into these routines too so I can allow my body to receive some physical therapy.

Other ways people like to relax are walks, days off social media, playing board games with kids and just doing things that allow the mind to think about things other than cycling and work.

Stress management is key to sports performance. And I hope this blog has done its bit in highlighting this, and how important it is to managing your riding too.

I hope you found this blog useful and as always. Feel free to comment and get in touch with content ideas and questions you want answered.

Ride well,


Instagram: @acopleypt

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