“Shelter in place” “Avoid crowds” “Wash your hands”…
The new nomenclature of our (currently) pandemic World. For athletes used to targeted workouts and racing to look forward to this can be a trying time! Nearly all my athletes have had to adjust their training and expectations based on the new normal and it has proven challenging in most every case. Let’s look at some ways to handle, and even excel during this novel time…
#1 – Set Some Goals!
“But coach, I already had a seasons worth of goals that are worthless now!”
Yep, you did and now, like water under a bridge, they are swept into history. That isn’t to say dismissed though. Likely those goals were set with specific performance or physiological targets in mind and those still matter! No, your “A” race may not happen on schedule, or at all if we’re honest, but that doesn’t mean the training and development isn’t still worthwhile. I tend to look at my athletes on a longitudinal schedule, where do we want you to be this year, next year and the year beyond?
In this case we likely need to define new targets that are less results driven than performance based. If you were on the cusp of a ‘racing’ block, continue that development path with some modifications. You may end up cutting volume given more indoor workouts. Most racing blocks are in the 4-6 week range, so you’re not going to derail future fitness by continuing to train hard now.
Then again, if you felt “behind” in your fitness, now is a great time to revisit that base? You may have read that I’m a big fan of highly structured zone 2 riding to improve your mitochondrial efficiency – why not undertake that goal over the next few weeks?
Perhaps you are riding inside more – great, very effective! Just be careful about trying to maintain the volume of training, and the volume of intensity, indoors compared to out. It’s a much harder workout indoors… Power will probably be 5-8% lower indoors, heat stress will be higher – meaning total training stress will be higher, so tread lightly! Most of you train by hours I’m guessing. Good! It’s a better metric than miles as it better reflects training load targets. Think about it…I can do 50 miles in 3 hours with a modest tail wind or it can take upwards of 4+ hours on a hilly and challenging route. Very different workouts!
#2 Maintain Good Habits!
Perhaps you’re off work or school, or working from home. It’s easy to see that as a vacation from your day to day! Stay up late, eat whatever, who cares we’re all gonna get Covid 19 anyway right?
Nope – maintaining your healthy lifestyle is essential if you are serious (or even semi serious) about your cycling. Indeed more sleep will keep you primed for the onslaught and allow you to maintain training effectiveness. The same goes for nutrition – don’t default to delivery based meals rife with processed ingredients and questionable nutrition. Instead use some of that extra time to plan and cook better meals! It goes hand in hand with being prepared for long stays at home or alone and gives you something to look forward to each day. Making healthy food is not a chore, it’s a gift to yourself and who doesn’t love gifts!
#3 – Find Friends
Now this one may seem odd in a “shelter in place” World, but really it’s totally viable! Many riders use Zwift for their indoor fix. On my team we’ve started using “meet ups” to connect with teammates on a given course. They are great because you can choose the “keep everyone together” option which allows everyone to stay in proximity so long as they keep pedaling.
We’ve taken it a couple of steps farther by connecting online via Discord, a gaming app that allows you to talk real time over the internet. Last night we knocked off the first hour of our group ride just jabbering away. The real key was when the climb got hard though – the verbal encouragement of teammates is a great motivator! Frankly, I talked more to my riders online than I do on any given team ride – and better still I can communicate workout specifics to EVERYONE at the same time. No more yelling over the wind hoping to be heard. We’ve also added structured workouts to the mix – I can build a workout in an erg or .zwo file and riders can load said file while waiting for the ride to start and voila, we’re all doing the same workout at our correct intensities!
Next up we’re going to un-tether the riders in the meet up and try some tactical and structured interval workouts. Things like hill repeats, time trials, and leadouts lend themselves to an online environment well – or so it seems so far
#4 – Stay Positive
I’ve seen many of my FB friends and athletes express a bit of angst given the rapid and substantial changes in their day-to-day. It is tough, no doubt…but attitude paves the way! If you are reading this you are likely one of the more fortunate folks dealing with what everyone is dealing with. You’re active, passionate about something, and likely in a stable and comfortable environment. Embrace your fortunes and reach out to those you know to be less so. In the end exercise is our lifestyle choice and provides innumerable benefits – the more so now when the endorphins and positive outcomes of exercise help keep you on the upswing!
Be safe, make good choices and….Keep at it!