Lucy Gadd rides for Storey Racing – the women’s road-cycling team led by Dame Sarah Storey, Britain’s most successful female Paralympian of all time. This is Lucy’s third year in Storey Racing colours after an impressive first season in 2019. Training and racing while studying for a Psychology degree, Lucy took some time out to share how lockdown has given her a new perspective on life.
I am an athlete who wants to achieve, and I am a student who wants the best grade. Here’s my perspective on how to do both of these, full-time, every day.
Let’s start with the basics – I am 19 years old; I’ve been riding a bike since the age of 10 and racing since 12. I am currently studying Psychology at University in my second year. My days involve waking up, training, then getting my head in a book or staring at my computer screen for the next 9 hours. And funnily enough, I actually really enjoy it!
Back track to my first year of uni (well, first half year because the second half was near enough cancelled due the Covid). I was trying to train for over 20 hours a week on the bike, whilst in my head going over all the stats equations I had to remember. It became very stressful – I was getting very little sleep and I was getting ill a lot.
Then exams came around and I was spending every day in the library 8am to 11pm, sometimes missing my training because I got myself so worked up that I wasn’t doing ‘enough’ work.
I’d say I learnt the hard way of how to manage uni and training. I put a lot of pressure on myself and didn’t cope with it in the ideal way.
During lockdown, I was able to take a step back. Like most other people, I had nowhere to be, no commitments and I spent my time purely focussing on my training. My days turned into waking up, thinking about my training and preparing for it. I would get it done to the best of my ability.
Once I was home, I then had chance to recover properly and relax before it was time to do it all over again the next day. I took this time to analyse my efforts alongside my coach Dame Sarah Storey.
We looked specifically at improving my power balance, with InfoCrank telling me the difference between my left and right side. For me, power is my preferred way of training – I find that my heart rate fluctuates day-to-day depending on my sleep, fatigue and how energetic I’m feeling. Therefore, having the most accurate and consistent power metre is key to comparing efforts and simulating a race. Having this structure for five months put me in the form of my life – if only I had some racing to do!
I feel very fortunate that in England, we were able to resume time trials in July. I’ve never done them properly before, so I was very excited to learn a new discipline! I did my first one on 26 July. I got as many under my belt as I could of different lengths and parkours before it was time for the District 25 mile championships on 23 August (which I won) and the following week, the National 10 mile Time Trial.
I must say, I’ve never felt so good on a bike in the whole nine years I’ve been riding, and I managed to finish second place in my category! All the hard work had paid off!
Now, I am back studying at university. I’m pleased to say that I am coping so much better! My days consist of getting my training done then having the rest of the day to do my work. When I do it this way, I realise how many hours there are in the day and this is ample time to keep up and go beyond the required material.
So, if I’ve learnt anything from balancing a student athlete life, it’s to plan, plan, plan. I don’t want to be thinking about analysing my power file when I’m supposed to be reading a research paper about the brain! Make time for training – it’s very important for your mental wellbeing. When it’s time to study, this is your sole focus; when it’s time to train, fully dedicate that time to pushing the pedals.