A few short months ago, we were all preparing for the 2020 season, with the usual nerves, excitement and trepidation new challenges bring. Today, we’re faced with a different situation. COVID-19 has made it’s way into our homes and communities, and is drastically changing the way we live our lives. Our families, health, careers, homes, and businesses are all at risk and this can put things which we took for granted, such as training, on the back burner. In times of uncertainty like this, we believe it’s important to stay strong, be kind, help others, and keep training. Don’t quit, we will get through this!! This blog discusses and provides my thoughts on the ways we can help ourselves and our training community.
Why Train During COVID-19 Quarantine? During times of uncertainty, it’s easy to feel down or depressed, especially when the races we’ve been training for are getting postponed or even cancelled. It’s also unclear if or when these races will be rescheduled. So why continue to train? Training provides us with more than just getting faster for a race, exercising has been proven to have many benefits including: decreased stress levels,
reduced anxiety and depression, increased cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility, improved joint mobility, improved posture and coordination, strengthened bones, decreased body fat levels, prevention or management of disease......the list goes on....
We recognise now more than ever, that good health is important so if our lives are turned upside down with COVID-19, we have the option to stay consistent and continue to train for our health. Plus, once this is all over, you will be on top of your game and ready to race!!......you'll all be streets ahead of those who stopped training.
Another positive is the chance and opportunity that the situation provides......."an opportunity?? Lidds - are you nuts!!" I hear you cry!! Yes - an opportunity......an opportunity to train differently - train our weak core, our weak glutes, concentrate on our flexibility, practice yoga and pilates, and get in to the routine we've been promising ourselves for months. It's also an opportunity to get the family and kids involved - inspire them to do some exercise, encourage them to do the strength exercises. We're always out the door swimming, cycling or running - now they can see you training in the house or garden. More on the opportunities later.
Training Safely During COVID-19 Quarantine We can’t emphasise enough, please practice social distancing and wash your hands, and always refer to up to date Government guidelines. As mentioned earlier, the situation is rapidly changing and we must adapt accordingly. Luckily, you can still train for a swimming, cycling, running or triathlon event while following those guidelines: Cycling - Indoors One cycling option is to stay indoors and ride a trainer. Riding a trainer at home provides a great workout and control over your environment. If you’d like to still be social, you can FaceTime a friend while riding or use apps, like Zwift, to ride along with others virtually. There's also other apps such as Sufferfest, Fullgaz and Trainer Road that can help break the monotony of riding indoors. Do your research, and have a look at what apps are best for you, your personality and the way you train.
Cycling - Outdoors There are fewer cars on the roads these days, making some roads much safer than normal. If you have to go to work, replace car commuting time with riding time. However, NO GROUP RIDES; it's also a time to ease back on our long rides, however frustrating this may seem. We have to be responsible!! There is no direct Government guidance on how long we can ride for, only a quote from Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said: "I would have thought for most people a walk of up to an hour, a run of 30 minutes or a cycle ride of between that, depending on their level of fitness, is appropriate." Please be sensible!!.....in this environment long rides are out the question. Try shorter rides of an hour but be specific - ride to a steep hill as your warm up, and perform hill reps at your maximum effort then recover on the descent Running - Indoors If you have a treadmill, this is pretty self explanatory. Running indoors follows the same principles as indoor cycling, it’s a great training tool and you have control over your environment. There are running apps that can help make things more social (Zwift for one) or you can rock out to some music or binge that show on Netflix everyone has been talking about! Running - Outdoors Running outdoors is currently being advised as safe as long as you are keeping yourself at safe distances from people. Trail running and running on paths are great ways to get outdoors and enjoy yourself while keeping a safe distance. However, please follow government advice - if you can't run to a trail or path from your house, the pavements will have to suffice, and practice social distancing at all times. Probably best to avoid the busy areas - search up new routes, get creative! Please take precautionary measures like always letting someone know where you’re going, wearing a trackable device, and trusting your intuition.
Swimming - Indoors If you have an endless pool at home - you lucky blighter!! Swimming - Outdoors
My personal advice on this is not to swim open water in the present environment - be it river, lake or sea. Swimming open water, especially in the sea alone is a big no no under 'normal' circumstances, let alone in the present situation - if you got into difficulty, this would put extra strain on the already stretched emergency services. Again, my advice - please don't, it's really not worth the risk
Ok........so what can i do?
We can still ride on the turbo and we can still run. Make each session specific - focus on some different aspects: hill training on the run, try to increase your cadence on the bike, or focus on some big gear strength efforts on the bike
Think outside the box - be creative. Can't swim like 99.99% of the population? - get some Therabands and check out my YouTube vids on some sessions on dryland swim training (Search "Ian Liddiatt" on YouTube for these and other exercises and sessions):
Set some different process goals - try some yoga or pilates in the garden; make a commitment to stretch each day; are your glutes or core weak? - now is the time to concentrate on these and strengthen them
A great tip is to look at what some other sports professionals are doing - don't forget they are in the same boat as us! Follow them on social media - the swimmers, cyclists, runners, triathletes.......have a look at what some of the professional climbers are doing in these circumstances. It'll surprise you and inspire you - we're all in this together!
Take Your Family With You If you know me, you know that I have a Labrador dog who loves to run in the woods by me, and explore. Yes, pets are part of our family. Allowing your pets to run along side you while you run is a great way to keep them in shape and keep you company. If your pet is not used to long distances or different surfaces, take some precautionary measures and make sure to take it slowly, provide adequate hydration and look after their paws. The outdoors is a great place for kids to learn and stay occupied without a screen. Since most schools are closed, it can be difficult to keep your kids entertained for long periods of time. For the young ones, strollers and bike seats are great options. If you have older kids, ask them to run or they can ride while you run. It can be a great time for bonding and teaching them skills to cope during this time, and would enable them to get some outdoor exercise safely.
As always, please follow Government advice regarding travel - while writing this travel is restricted but is allowed for "short" distances, so again, please be sensible and avoid busy parks and beaches and stay local. Think outside the box!!!
What Matters Most Information is coming at a rapid pace right now and it can be hard to wrap yourself around all the regulations and recommendations. We don’t know how long this could last. Remember, as much as things seem out of control, there are still things that we can can control and do to experience normalcy. Training is one of those things!!
Take time to enjoy the simpler things in life - make time to read a book for 30 mins, listen to some podcasts, spend time with your kids, ensure you go outside each day, train in the garden. Focus on your positives each day We are fortunate to live in a time where we have the ability to connect virtually. We can continue to encourage our teammates and offer advice or help when needed. This is a great time to jump into forums, create conversations on social media posts, listen to podcasts and read blog articles. If you see a question on a swimming, cycling, running or triathlon forum, offer help if you can; be positive and support others any way we can. Let’s not resort to trolling or criticising. We are strong believers in helping others. We have a responsibility to follow the guidelines proposed by the experts, including the WHO, government and scientists. If we can slow the process by training safely and responsibly, we must. Today, and everyday, we have choice to accept what we are given and realise that this too will pass. We have the tools to cope with whatever is thrown our way and we can make the world a better place. Most of this for us this is uncharted territory and together, I believe we can succeed. Stay strong, don’t quit and don’t stop training!
Stay positive, stay well!