I always say to those around me, “What do you do, when nothing seems to be going right or you just can’t seem to be hitting those goals you’re striving to achieve?”

It’s a question I suppose I have been asking myself quite a bit lately.

When you’re not delivering what the team knows you’re capable of, it’s sometimes hard to escape the pressure to continually perform where you need to be, and the internal pressure you put on yourself.

In previous seasons, in particular during the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympics and trying to gain selection, I’d previously struggled a lot more with such things.

Tiffany Cromwell exclusive insight 1

I put so much pressure on myself and it ended up eating me up inside and became very detrimental to my performance and my mental strength to stay focused and motivated, when my form or the races weren’t going as I had hoped.

Now, I’ve improved on how to manage it. I am a lot more content with where I am at with my racing, and what the team expects from me.

You can’t expect to always be on top form throughout the entire season, but you can change your mentality when you’re at a race and know that perhaps you aren’t in that top shape.

I have learned so much from the other experiences, and as hard as it can be at times, I’m doing my best to look at the “big picture”.

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I’m trusting the process and I believe in it. So, obviously underperforming in races, it’s never fun, but you just keep plugging away and keep suffering because you know the wheel can turn quickly.

It is important to self-assess, and ask yourself the important questions when it comes to changing your fortunes. And you need to be ready to claw your way back.

Investigate – “What’s worked in the past? What do I need to do to be back there?”

I definitely look back to see things I’ve done in previous seasons, what’s worked for me for particular races versus just doing the same current routine.

I’m a big believer in mixing it up and always keeping things exciting and motivating, because you can very easily just get into that going through the motions’ feeling, going through the same routines.

For me personally, I don’t feel like you progress if you aren’t continually looking at new ways of doing things in order to improve performance.

You need to keep yourself challenged and keep your body guessing, but still know the fundamentals that you need to do.

DIGA DI CAMPO MORO, ITALY - JULY 12: Tiffany Cromwell of Australia and Team Canyon SRAM Racing / during the 29th Tour of Italy 2018 - Women, Stage 7 a 15km Individual time trial stage from Lanzada to Diga Di Campo Moro 2000m / Giro Rosa / on July 12, 2018 in Diga Di Campo Moro, Italy. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
DIGA DI CAMPO MORO, ITALY – JULY 12: Tiffany Cromwell of Australia and Team Canyon SRAM Racing / during the 29th Tour of Italy 2018 – Women, Stage 7 a 15km Individual time trial stage from Lanzada to Diga Di Campo Moro 2000m / Giro Rosa / on July 12, 2018 in Diga Di Campo Moro, Italy. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Throughout my season we build my training specific to the races and the goals I’m targeting.

Which means we constantly need to reassess where I’m at, where I’m strong and what are my weaknesses that I need to build on if I’m going to perform in that particular goal race.

In cycling there’s so much to it and every race is different, some more than others and the skill set/demands they require.

I think every athlete finds themselves in this position where things aren’t going their way, it’s a constant rollercoaster of the peaks and troughs of form, but sometimes the difference between the ups and downs can be a very big rollercoaster ride.

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Especially maybe at the stage of my career where the sport has become my career and isn’t just a hobby anymore. It’s become much more serious over the last 6 years or so where I’ve moved past the point of a ‘developing rider’.

You gain a few major results, sign with bigger teams and suddenly the levels and expectations on the perception of what is considered a ‘good result’ changes so much.

When a top 10 result used to be something to get excited about, now it’s all about podium performances and those elusive victories.

Anything less we’re not really excited about it.

But that’s professional sport, everyone is striving for greatness.

Everyone is pushing the limits and trying to look at those marginal gains of how we can beat our competitors and continually increase/improve our performances.

Study our competitors and work out what we need to do to be able to beat them to be the best.

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Sport is my livelihood. And when that’s the case, there are times that you lose your love for the sport.

You find there can be periods where you wake up and you just think… I’m not enjoying this as much as I used to.

When you’re in those troughs and just can’t seem to get to where you want to be, or have the motivation to get there, despite all the hard work you ’think’ you’re putting in.

I’ve had those phases before.

2011 was a pretty rough period for me.

Just nothing was going right, and it was a really, really rubbish season, including a few team issues too.

I am someone who has for the most part always loved what I do, but this particular year was the only time I’ve come close to stopping the sport.

So how did I turn that around, how did I keep going to get to where I am today? I had to take myself away, have a break, do some other things.

Mentally refresh myself and then I soon realised I was missing what I was doing, missing the processes.

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I found some new goals, I had signed with a new and exciting team for the following season, and I rebuilt myself back up with renewed focus and motivation.

I guess 2016 was the same but in a different way.

When I was going through all the selection process of trying to get to the Olympics, and fell short, I had some pretty dark moments. I wasn’t motivated to ride my bike, I didn’t want to really see my friends.

I shut a lot of people out and I was just riding my bike, going to races, doing my ‘job’, but not pushing that extra bit that you can find in yourself when you have the motivation and focus to improve and be the best.

I really didn’t enjoy being at the races, continually getting dropped and finding myself well below where I knew I was capable of.

To get myself out of this hole, I finally had a period of no racing. I’d just finished racing the Tour of California.

So I decided to take myself to Aspen, Colorado to do some altitude training. For me Colorado is a ‘happy place’, I spent some time living there when I was racing in the US earlier in my career, I have many great memories.

The altitude is hard, but the training is beautiful. So I took myself there, I just rode my bike and simply enjoyed the simple pleasures that riding your bike gives you.

I came out of that trip refreshed, I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders and suddenly I turned things around, took a victory in one of the biggest women’s stage races, and the rest of the season went much more positive.

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At the moment, although the results haven’t been there, the last couple of months after coming off the high of the Commonwealth Games.

I’m still enjoying everything at the moment… but I know I need to get the full focus back, as I don’t feel like I’ve been as strongly focused as I was at the start of the season when I had such a big goal I was working to achieve.

I’ve had a pretty heavy race program the last two to three months with a nice little training block in there too. But, I’m still striving for personal results which I’ve been lacking this season on top of the results I’ve been helping my team achieve.

I’ve taken myself away for a mental break after the 10 day women’s Giro d’Italia to help refresh and recover myself before getting stuck into the final part of the season.

I’m hoping this will be just what I need to finish this season strongly as opposed to burnt out.

When I return to my training program next week, it’s time to really switch back on properly – like I was at the start of the season when I felt 100% and things were going really, really well.

My greatest lesson, I’ve found which has helped me a great deal, is to not put so much pressure on yourself.

Tiffany Cromwell exclusive insight

That’s the biggest trick.

And keep good people around you.

That’s the other big thing. When I’ve got good people around me, and I allow those people to be within my life, then it’s great.

It’s like when I start trying to shut people out, that’s when it’s bad news.

So, that’s where I really focus on keeping a good environment around me, keeping happy, because when I’m happy on the bike, I’m happy off the bike, and everything flows and nothing can get in my way of my motivation and my racing.

I’m finding that happiness again. I’m taking away any bad distractions. Keeping the good ones around, and keep focusing on what’s in my power and what I can control.

Life is all about having the right balance and that’s what Im continually trying to create around me with my racing and my life.