As a third (possibly fourth) wave of Coronavirus threatens to surge on through the cold winter months, many athletes, including myself, are questioning the how and the why of training.
How to stay motivated when my race will most likely be canceled? Is it even worth training consistently with nothing on the calendar?
As difficult as it can be to get out of the door during these periods of stress and uncertainty, it’s often necessary to stay sane. Here are some how’s and why’s to running through Coronavirus.
It’s ok to reduce mileage!
If you stop training altogether, you’ll lose some fitness. Duh. And the longer your hiatus, the more fitness you’ll lose. Many of us are all-too-aware of this fact, and it may be causing you some anxiety. But relax, even if you are only running a fraction of what you do during a period of peak training, you will still stay in great shape!
Research conducted on competitive cyclists have shown that a relatively short break, meaning a total break from all exercise, (two weeks or so), is not too disruptive. That’s right, you could take 10-14 days off all forms of training and not lose fitness. Therefore, stop stressing about the few days you took off when you waited for your COVID test results!
There’s also evidence that even a tiny bit of training can drastically slow your rate of decline. For example, reducing your training volume by two-thirds has been shown to have a negligible effect on fitness in the short term, provided you include a little bit of speed work like strides or intervals. Your top-end speed de-trains quicker than your endurance. So, if you’ve got limited time, make sure you throw in some hard efforts.
In short, a couple of weeks of rest won’t do you much harm, and doing even a little training will keep you much fitter than doing no training – especially if you can include some higher intensity efforts too.
In fact, if you’re stressed, it’s GOOD to reduce training volume!
The pandemic and its ramifications can be overwhelming. We all must respect that this is a stressful time. And just like I always preach, when life stress increases, we must decrease the training stress to keep the stress-to-rest cycle in balance. This is definitely a time when we must be flexible in our approach to running and aware of how the weight of the pandemic is affecting training. A stressed-out, low-mileage athlete is at risk of overtraining and burnout!
If you are feeling acute anxiety, it might be a good time to try some CBD products. I use Hemp Daddy’s 20 mg softgels daily to keep my anxiety in check and my cortisol levels (a hormone that can lead to overtraining in excess) down.
Time to train the brain!
Now is also a good time to ramp up your mental training. From visualization to meditation to breathing techniques to mantras and inspirational quotes, without stepping foot outside, you can work on and hone your mental skills. I’m a firm believer that ultimate success comes when the athlete is in the right mindset and they’re excited (and a little nervous) to challenge themselves.
As athletes, we can’t afford to avoid discomfort. We must be willing to challenge ourselves to keep pushing even when the brain and body protest. The more mentally resilient you are against pain and the more resolute you are to face the inevitable suffering in racing your best, the better you will be when the time comes to toe the line again.
Running to support the immune system
Research suggests that moderate physical activity like an easy run strengthens the immune system. As a result, keep getting in some easy runs even if they are shorter than you’d like. They will help boost your immune system.
In times of uncertainty, it can be hard to motivate ourselves to stay consistent in your training. It’s easy to be shortsighted. If there is no race to train for, what is the point of getting out every day? How can you persuade yourself to do a hard workout, when you don’t even know when there is no finish line to visualize when the workout gets tough.
Right now, we all need to think about the bigger picture. And be optimistic that the current situation will resolve soon.
The training we do in the present is never just about the current season anyway. The miles we put in now do more to boost performance in the long term than it does for a race twelve-weeks out.
Consistency is the building blocks of fitness and the training you put in now, even if it’s not for a race, it will pay off BIG a year, or even five years from now!
Article by Ultra Runner Cat Bradley