Hayden Roulston has made the transition from top flight cyclist to top coach successfully, photo Eugene Bonthuys

Retirement means different things to different people, and it’s not uncommon for cyclists – just like most other professions – to find it a bit of a rattling process.  Hayden Roulston is in the middle of discovering life the other side of professional cycling and he has opened up about his experiences of life in a brand new season of life.


The journey up from exhausted, unmotivated & miserable


Hayden Roulston retired from cycling after placing fourth in his final SBS Tour of Southland, and for Hayden the difficulties of adjusting began straight away.  “Following the race I had a week off doing nothing at all,” he said in a blog post.  “It was a planned week off, but still it was a week off with no focus.  I put on 3kgs in this week, I was exhausted, unmotivated and miserable to be honest.”


Life had changed virtually overnight for Hayden, but to his credit this was not an experience that he was unprepared for as he was well versed by the accounts of other riders who had documented their struggles of coming to terms with retirement.  “I told the people closest to me that I was having a week off, not thinking about the future and with no stress of decision-making, and after that I would start planning.  I’ve been busy ever since, and I’m thankful I have been busy.”


That busy-ness has seen Roulston launch himself into coaching and he really is able to enjoy the busy post-pro-cycling life; but the challenges of getting to that point have been no less real for him.  “I actually couldn’t imagine life like that week I had after the Tour of Southland,” Roulston said.  “Waking up with no routine, no passion, no goals or direction.  That was hard and I can see exactly why athletes who have led a very structured life can fall down and struggle.”

Hayden has faced a rocky road, but there is still his ‘morning routine’ that has stayed the same for more than 5 years, photo Pete Bruggeman
‘Hard work is always rewarded’


Even the coaching business itself was an unexpectedly slow process even after his new website launch.  “I have had challenges along the way, that’s for sure – like when I finally launched my coaching website and anticipated the floodgates to open, yet I had nobody sign up in the first week,” Roulston reflected.  “I just naturally though . . . that my coaching career would start off with a hiss and a roar – but it didn’t.”


But he’s stuck to it with his motto that ‘hard work is always rewarded’.  Roulston headed into retirement with options, which included free university study which is offered to some top flight New Zealand athletes; but he decided against that, instead looking to his 15 years of professional cycling experience as his qualification.  


Of course Hayden misses life as a professional cyclists, although there are elements to that past life that he is glad to see the back of.  “I do miss cycling in the world’s biggest league but I don’t miss saying goodbye to my family.  I miss getting x number of bikes a year and suitcases full of clothes.  I don’t miss feeling like my life is at risk in a bunch of unknowns.  For sure there are many more things I miss, but right now I feel pretty good about life!”


Keeping constant with the ‘morning routine’


But one thing that has stayed with Hayden and has been a constant through til now is his ‘morning routine’.  Hayden’s routine was practiced over the last five years of his career, and is made up of:


  • movement: core, squats, lunges, kettle bells etc
  • ‘cold water therapy’ courtesy of a cold shower
  • breathing exercises: 10s in and 30-60s out
  • stretches


“This 15min routine has helped me keep some form of structure and normality in my life,” Hayden said.  “If you don’t have a morning routine and want to be successful then you should start one today because it will change your life, your career and it costs nothing.”


To read Hayden’s full blog post click here.


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