As of Thursday, March 19, 2020 in the United States, outside has not been cancelled due to COVID-19! You and your family can still enjoy the great outdoors and all of you would benefit from it! Don’t get together with a bunch of other folks, but go out for a walk, a run, a hike, or a ride. Take the dog or kids for a walk. Play outside in your yard. Teach your kids how to jump rope, play hopscotch, tag, or any other “old-fashioned” games from your childhood. Play ball or frisbee with your kids. Do yard work. Plant a garden. You don’t have to stay trapped inside your house, but you should not be closer than 6’ to people other than your family that live with you!
In the past week, almost all endurance sports races through the end of April have been cancelled or postponed in many areas. This has left many endurance athletes in a dilemma.
- My spring races have been postponed to the fall – how do I train now?
- Are you going crazy because all of your races have been cancelled?
- Do you feel like you’ve just wasted months of your life now that your race isn’t going to happen as scheduled?
So what can you do during this unexpected offseason so you’re ready to hit the race course again at your peak:
- Give yourself permission to experience all the feelings – anger, sadness, frustration, maybe even relief…just don’t dwell on them long term. In the process of feeling the feelings, spend some time thinking about why you may be so upset about races being cancelled. If racing is your sole purpose for training, maybe you should look at why. Why is so much of your identity or purpose linked to racing rather than training for the benefits of training?
- Focus on your winter training block – what went well? What didn’t? Figure out what you need to do, or not do, to train better for the next big race.
- Are you feeling exhausted and drained from your training and the stresses of life? Right now is a great time to scale back on your workouts to give your body the rest, physically and mentally, that it may be craving. Training can start to feel like an obligation and another item on an already overcrowded to do list. If it is, reprioritize things for a while.
- Take this totally unexpected downtime to address nagging injuries that you felt like you never had time to address. I am seeing clients virtually through video calls and can address many of the common overuse injuries through movement assessment and exercise programs that can be delivered electronically.
- Focus on your nutrition! Between the holiday foods and training, did you feel like you couldn’t drop those few extra pounds over the winter? Now would be a great time to focus on your nutrition. If you don’t have a pending big event coming up in May or early June, you can afford to be in a calorie deficit right now and not worry so much if performance drops a little in the meantime. Drop a few pounds in the next few weeks and ramp your training back up with less body weight to carry!
- Add some strength training into your routine for the next several weeks. It’s the most underutilized tool for power, speed, and injury prevention out there for the endurance athlete. No need to worry about getting sore from new workouts and messing up your race right now so go for it. If you need some help to know what to do, ask me!
- Mix things up right now. Try a new exercise routine. Move workouts to different days. Focus on a new goal – long distance folks can work on short-term speed work. Road runners or cyclists could try out trails or vice versa. Cross-training is beneficial. You just may need to get a little creative right now.
- Focus on your form – no club runs or races means you should be spending more training time on your own right now. This means no distractions from conversations or PR goals and you can think about how you’re moving. Pay attention to your pedal stroke smoothness and cadence on the bike. Focus on your run form and cadence. Tune into your body right now like never before and optimize your movement patterns.
- Find the joy in fitness again. This is supposed to be fun and for health. If it’s not, mix things up or take some time off until it’s fun again.
- Appreciate being healthy enough to go out and exercise. It’s something now, more than ever, we should be grateful for the ability to swim, bike and run.
During these crazy times, find a way to move and exercise during your day! It will help keep you healthier, it will improve your productivity at work, even if you’re working from home, and it’s a great stress/anxiety reliever and we’ve all got way too much of that right now in these crazy, ever-changing times.
Stay well and healthy! We can still stay connected virtually during this isolation and come out better and stronger on the other side!