How to train through the coronavirus pandemic
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic around the world and the effect on triathlon, Ironman, cycling and running events being canceled, it may seem overwhelming to some. From staying healthy to the crippling damage to the economy, there is currently a lot of stress going through the athletes mind.
Unless you are in one of the countries such as Italy, Norway or New Zealand that has some sort of quarantine measure in place, this is a good time to release stress through a head-clearing bike ride or relaxed run in the forest unless your country expressly forbids it, such as Spain and France.
Here are some changes you may have to make to your training and racing season for 2020.
If you are unsure about your upcoming races, contact your local race director. If you are planning to travel to an event such as an Ironman or Marathon in another country. Preparing yourself ahead of time and keeping frequent contact with the event organizer can help you financially in the long run. Remember we are all going through the same stress so be curtious to the race directors no matter the outcome.
While most larger events such as Ironman Triathlon events have been cancelled, some events such as the London marathon and the Boston marathon have been postponed until later in the season. There are plenty of reasons to keep training and hold onto the well developed fitness you have acquired.
Endurance sportswire has put together a database of all cancelled events in America. You can find the updated list here. Additionally Both Ironman and Challenge are constantly updating their sites. Currently ITU has announced that all races through to April 30 have been cancelled. Currently it is unknown how this may affect the Olympic selection process or the Olympic games.
Triathlon and running is not the only endurance sport to feel the brunt of the Coronavirus. Over 100 cycling races have been canceled or postponed worldwide. this means the UCI has suspended all Olympic qualification until April 3 (across all disciplines). While in America, USA Cycling has suspended permits on all USA cycling sanctioned events until April 5.
With all the cancelled events and uncertainty of events going ahead in the near future, what can you do now?
Stay Healthy during COVID-19
As noted by the World Health Organization, its important to follow their guidelines. This means:
1. Wash your hands frequently.
2. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
3. Seek medical care early if you have fever, difficulty breathing or coughing.
4. Follow guidelines given by your healthcare provider.
All information can be found online at the World Health Organization’s website.
Should I scale back my Training to stay healthy?
As with most endurance events, training is mostly done outside and not in confined spaces. We also know that for the most part, light to moderate training keeps your immune system healthier. Only when the body is pushed and extreme levels of fatigue from training that we start to compromise our immune system. This means hard training during this period could possibly compromise your immune systems ability to fight of flu, bacteria and the coronavirus.
Scale down Intensity and volume
There are numerous variables in training, But two of the most common are intensity and volume. During your build-up to the event weekly volume increases, building your aerobic capabilities. Unfortunately, you can’t keep that upwards momentum especially when you don’t know the current state of your planned events. This will most likely have you peaking too early or in worst case destroying yourself.
As your race has been most likely entering the last phases before the Coronavirus outbreak, your training has been entering a higher intensity phase. While this is a proven structure heading into the race, the unknown outcome of events means the current form needs to be held rather than improved. Once you have a rescheduled date for your triathlon, running or cycling event, you can start building the higher intensity work into your training plan again as you get closer to the event.
Look over your past Training
Now is the time with no planned races in the current time frame to look over your past training and evaluate your current training plan. Some points to look out for:
How was my build up?
Did i stay injury free?
What can I change in my build up to the event?
What improvements can I make?
Did I stay injury free?
Did I track all my data correctly?
Did I follow a schedule developed for me?
Am I fueling correctly before and after training?
Can my race nutrition strategy be improved?
Like the end of the season, now is a great time to ease back the training load until the outcome of the coronavirus pandemic becomes more stable. Use this time to enjoy cycling, running or Swimming again. The key during this period is to hold your fitness rather than to plan for any current races. If you can hold some of this fitness you built up for the cancelled race will allow you to ease back into your schedule again, without loosing the much earned fitness.
While 2020 may not end up being the best year for racing, its all not lost and forgotten. Take this early season training to learn more about your training and fitness. Look at ways to improve both your results and fitness. You can also spend this time doing maintenance on your bike, working on your swim stroke or practice your running drills. Look at this time as a way to fine tune the smaller things that may have a larger impact on your race results and help keep you injury free.