Lockdowns across the country have been an interesting experience for us all, to say the least. With our takeaway orders and Netflix hours soaring, it’s easy to get wrapped up on the couch and forget about the outside world. Many politicians, influencers, healthcare professionals have provided us with helpful ways of getting through lockdown like meditation, reading and other self-care tips.
But what about the fun stuff we could be doing? The challenges we could be setting ourselves?
I’m currently in week 9 of lockdown in Sydney and have been doing some new and interesting things I’ve never done before to challenge my body and psyche. Why? to be the best version of myself when we can all be rejoined again. I found that setting myself a challenge for a month or 14 days was just too overwhelming. Breaking it down, I set myself a 7-day challenge every week. The challenges varied each week (but always included a cycling-related challenge).
This is something to look forward to and has encouraged healthy habits that I will continue for life! Admittedly, it took me 4 weeks of lockdown to get myself back into healthy habits as I thought (as we all did) that it would blow over! So there are 5 challenges for you to pick and choose from and inspire you to create your own.
Week 1 – Podcasts and Puzzles + The Home Cycling Set Up
Podcasts and Puzzles
I’m certain you have a few puzzles lying around in the garage or in the kids’ bedrooms (maybe with a few missing pieces). You can get plenty of awesome puzzles shipped to your doorstop to start your podcast and puzzle journey. I bought some puzzles online and cleared the dining room table. I put on a podcast I’ve been meaning to listen to and lost myself in 2 hours every night with a cup of tea, glass of wine or a bowl of ice-cream.
This helped me catch up on my favourite things to listen to (like the Bicycling Australia podcast) and allowed me to pass time, use my brain but not stare at a screen and have some quality alone time each evening.
Doing this for 7 days improved my mood, I learned something from my podcasts and it was something to look forward to daily. Life is fast, even in lockdown and even if you can’t commit or get bored of doing this for 7 days. Other tasks to accompany your podcasts could be: using colouring in books designed to de-stress for adults, reorganising your workspace or even cooking your favourite comfort meal.
Your Home Training Set Up + Setting Weekly Goals
By now, I’m sure you have a home set up fit for an Olympian cyclist! However, if you don’t – it’s never too late to get started. The rise in popularity of indoor training has changed the world of cycling and given the current pandemic, it’s no wonder why many people are opting for at-home setups.
Zwift is a great way to get involved with friends and also get a structured workout. Set aside some time and work on an achievable weekly goal for your indoor training routine. Making my goals smaller and getting into a routine for 7 days helped me incorporate it into my daily routine without even thinking about it!
Check out this Bicycling Australia article which answers some FAQ’s about indoor training.
Week 2 – The Phoneless Walk + Recycle and Cycle
It’s just you and me brain, and we’re going on an adventure. With this walk, we take our phones with us (for obvious work from home crises reasons and safety) but we don’t listen to music or podcasts. I know this might not sound groundbreaking. But it was for me and if you’re not already doing it, it will be for you too.
Walking for 30 minutes a day without external noise focuses the mind. It challenges you to just take in your local scenery and give yourself a well-earned break.
Completing this task for 7 days really allowed me to use this time to meditate while walking (it can be done) and focus on my breathing, my surroundings and just watch the world pass by without shutting it out. Sometimes, we think that putting on music or a podcast is relaxing when it can actually cause us mild anxiety because we’re avoiding REAL downtime with our mind. I’ve now incorporated this at least 3 times a week on my daily walks and I love it!
Recycle and Cycle
The cycling market has been exploding since the start of the pandemic, like countless other industries the demand is high and the supply is low. Same day delivery now feels like a thing of the past!
Coming to terms with the fact that the bike or gear I really want is sold out everywhere or is simply 6 months away from arriving to my door, I scoured Bicycle Market on Facebook, Bike Exchange and general Facebook Marketplace for other alternatives in my area (plus I saved some cash and who doesn’t love that?)
Not only will it be good for your pocket and you’ll get some great gear. But you’ll also help circulate and recycle bikes and gear that may have gone to landfill.
Week 3 – The Takeout-less Week + Turn 5km into An Adventure
The Takeout-less Week
This one might not seem like a challenge.. but trust me it is!
Working from home can be difficult for lots of reasons, the distraction of craving a midday nap, your partner or kids and countless things to do every day. It’s easy to throw in a takeaway order and eat at your desk. It’s also very easy to say ‘Well I’m not spending money on the pub, or the usual weekend activities’ and then $100 later you’re still left with a fridge full of food and plenty of leftovers!
I took on the challenge of making my meals for 7 days with no takeaway.. No matter how tempting it was!
What did I do?
• I did a little bit of meal prep! Lasagna, burrito mix, pre-cooked proteins. These allowed me to throw something together easy for lunches.
• Chose my favourite meals to make instead of a new recipe. Knowing your favourite recipe’s are waiting to be made is better than the challenge of a new recipe you’re not sure you’ll like.
• Buy some ready made meals. Don’t have the time or really don’t have the energy? There are some amazing options in supermarkets that are both healthy and delicious. Don’t pass those by!
• Snacks! I stocked up on some delicious snacks that wasn’t just trail mix and fruits.
Taking on this challenge helped me regulate my day better. I got away from the screen and at least made my meal away from the desk or just threw something I prepped earlier in the oven so I have plenty of hours to binge my favourite show.
Turn 5km Into An Adventure
We’re all following the public health advice and sticking to our radius’s (mine is 5km) at the moment and surely some of yours are too! But have you really explored what your are has to offer?
I love jumping on Strava and tracking my rides and my walks, it’s a great way to connect with friends and family and we all love that kick of dopamine after we conquer a great ride.
This week, I looked at the maps in my surrounding areas and explored some places I haven’t gone before or have neglected. (Getting away from my usual surroundings felt like a bit of a holiday!) Conquering some new places, getting used to some new loops and really familiarising myself with my neighbourhood was great fun and light challenge.
Week 4 – The Multi-Disciplinary Week + Bicycling Australia
The Multi-Disciplinary Week
Puzzle master.. Check, Walking every day.. Check, Lowering the takeaway damage.. Check! What’s next?
This week, I set myself the task to do all 3. Instead of doing puzzles and listening to podcasts, I did the following!
• I Bought some new books and set aside 15 minutes a day to read them. Some fiction, some non fiction and some out of my comfort zone!
• Learned a new recipe and even baked a cake. As part of the Classics team, I baked a Classics cake to celebrate all our awesome events.
• Committed to a 15 minute meditation and stretch session every morning. (If you’re not already doing this, you should be!) If you can’t commit to 15 minutes, there are plenty of tutorials and podcasts that incorporate this task in 5 minutes.
• I split my walks up in two during the day. 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the afternoon. One without my headphone and one with!
Adding these simple things to my day changed the course of my focus, my commitment to the day and broke up the monotony of the lockdown life. Consider incorporating one or all of these during your lockdown journey. You won’t be sorry you did!
This isn’t so much of a challenge, just something to look forward to. During lockdown, we’re always looking forward to the intercom going off or the knock at the door to find the postman with something we bought online. Some days feel like Christmas with the amount of packages that arrive.
I’m sure by now we’re all avid readers or followers of Bicycling Australia’s website, newsletters and social media accounts. But, there is plenty of amazing content in the magazine that isn’t shared online.
I love receiving my delivery and sitting on the deck with my tea or breakfast and getting stuck into the amazing curated content.
You usually swing past your local Bicycling Australia retailer and pick it up but with our contact with the outside world a little limiting, don’t stress and get it delivered. Get inspired with the Bicycling Australia magazine and get reading!
Current Week: Week 5 – Mental Health Focus + Get Faster Inside, For Outside
Mental Health Week
Everything that I’ve discussed in this article will (I hope) improve the way you feel inside and out! But this week, I wanted to knuckle down and focus on my mental health. As we all go through lockdown experiences together, it’s important to remember some days are easier than others. The types of things I’ve incorporated into my daily mental health routine this week are:
Journaling – Writing in a book or on your computer or phone is a great way to reflect upon the day or the day ahead. You can also use journaling or mood tracker apps. This has helped me regulate my day to day and stay on track!
Task Lists – From little things, big things grow. I write down what needs to be done in my diary and highlight once I’ve ticked everything off, highlighting even the little things like ‘fold the laundry’ gives us a little boost of dopamine!
Meditation – This might be a cliche one, but meditating for even 10 minutes a day brings one numerous mental health benefits and helps you address your focus for the day or calm your mind in the evening.
Cutting Down – This might be hard to do during lockdown, we’re all looking for those easy pleasures to make it a little easier. However, create healthier habits by cutting down on something that might not be too healthy for you. I’m cutting down on sweets and sugar this week!
Informative Entertainment – Whether it’s an informative YouTuber, documentaries or interesting podcasts on your favourite topic. Always learning and educating ourselves has a great impact on our mental health. This week I’ll be watching lectures on YouTube from some of the greatest minds of our time!
Get Faster Inside, For Outside
Circling back to our first week, it’s time to check in and see how we’re going! Are we improving and is indoor training a part of our exercise routine? Checking back with myself, I found that yes! I had improved because I was keeping indoor training a part of my routine. When I get back on the roads and cycling with friends, I want to be in prime condition and feel like I can take on the Bowral, Noosa and Snowy Classics!
If you’ve absolutely smashed your goals, it’s time to set new ones! Whatever that might entail for you, increasing your km’s or personal bests, improving other areas of your fitness or diet and putting in more time. If you’re having trouble, talk to your club or friends and do some group challenges. (It’s always good to stay competitive!)
Keep on track with Zwift and Strava, keep checking in with yourself, your friends or your club and just keep cycling!
Lockdown is a difficult time for us all and incorporating these fun and interesting challenges, it might help you get through your days a little bit easier! Encourage your friends and family to get involved and try out these mini-challenges and keep moving, keep positive and keep cycling during lockdown! I hope that with all these weekly challenges you might feel a little bit more like a Lockdown Legend!
The Classics Team