So you’ve hunkered down, stocked your fridge, set up your pain cave, ordered your bands for dryland swim training, finally purchased a smart trainer, and sampled a dozen online workouts while you weather the COVID-19 storm…so now what?
The reality is we need to adjust to a “new normal” for the next three to four months. To feel happy and settled we need to enforce a sense of normalcy, and alternately, rethink the way we do a few things. Here are a couple of ideas to help you stay focused and motivated during this chapter.
Reinforce Structure and Routine
Map out your day as if you are still going to work or school. Plan your training before you get your kids going in the morning. After your workout, shower up and put on your office clothes. Schedule family activities and work time. Place your meals at typical times of day and schedule your food choices in accordance with digestion and recovery around your workouts. Plan virtual happy hours or tea times on video with friends or remote family to fill out your social schedule. Get to bed at the same time that you did before the COVID19 shutdown.
Create Interim Challenges for Yourself
Exciting goals serve as placeholders in your training calendar, and can motivate you to get a little bit more out of your daily workouts. Map out an accurate 10K running route and run it as a time trial every second week. Focus in on that local epic hill and go for personal bests. Run ten days in a row or complete the duration of an Ironman bike leg over two days on the weekend. Pick a cool Strava challenge.
Focus on Learning
Pick a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, like dismounting your bike with your shoes clipped into your pedals, or changing a flat tire in under five minutes. Choose of series of online yoga or body weight strength programs; learn new postures and strength routines. Order a cell phone tripod and take biomechanical selfie videos to compare your mechanics to that of high performers on YouTube and work towards technical gains with your coach. Read a sports psychology book, learn about periodizing nutrition or analyzing power meter files.
Find Opportunities to Connect Virtually
Create a group Skype or Zoom meeting and run a group workout. For instance, you can do a multi-phase strength workout and have a different friend or training partner lead each portion of the workout. Fire up the bike trainer and chat with yoru friends while you’re riding via Messenger or WhatsApp video. You’ll feel like you were out for a social ride, and it’s a great chance to catch up while you train.
Create an Adventure or Mock Event
Was your key 70.3 or half marathon cancelled? Create an event for yourself on that weekend and take it seriously. Do all, or a portion of the event. If it’s a marathon, consider running half on Saturday and half on Sunday. Invite your regular training partners to tackle the same challenge so you can create camaraderie in your preparation and have a few good laughs in the debrief. Host a virtual awards ceremony or dinner with your training partners or family and celebrate over Zoom, Skype or Facetime.
Join one of the virtual cycling platforms like Zwift, and sign up for races. There are a variety of distances and formats that are surprisingly dynamic and effective, particularly if you have a smart trainer. There is also a plethora of virtual events being launched online by Ironman, Sportstats and many of the big running event companies to replace canceled races. They feature rankings and prizes. Some are competitive while many emphasize participation and challenging yourself. Typically, you need a GPS to be able to upload a file, but that’s about it.
We endurance athletes are a resilient bunch. Some of the amazing lessons learned from sport include the ability to problem solve, overcome adversity and persevere. There’s never been a time where those skills are more useful than now. Incorporate a few of these ideas to create inspiration and help make abnormal times feel just a little bit more normal!
Juliet Thompson Hochman contributed to this article.