No racing? No problem. How to keep engaged and motivated during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Well, the excitement for race season isn’t quite like it used to be this year. We don’t know when or if we’ll be able to race at all, but that doesn’t mean we should just let our fitness fall away and sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day. It’s ok to be disappointed and even angry, but I’d suggest that you change your focus now on maintaining and even increasing your overall fitness level. Being consistent is the number one thing for improvement over time, so if you want to come out of this better than when you went in, you need to keep being active.
Structured training right now may seem less motivating for some, but there are ways to increase the intensity, without the grind of fixed intervals.
Here are some ways to stay motivated and keep the fitness high or even improve it this time of year in more fun and exciting ways.
1 – Zwift or other types of virtual training and racing. Zwift has been a great tool for me to get some very high-intensity training in without the structure of intervals. Have you tried a Zwift race? I recently did a 30K race that had me at over threshold for 40 minutes straight. That’s like doing a 4 x 10 threshold session, but without any breaks. Trying to do that during a structured training session would be very hard and mentally challenging, but when in a virtual race, you find yourself pushing to new levels. Triathlon Canada recently came out with a bunch of events using the virtual platform FulGaz. So if you’re not using some sort of indoor training software, you’re missing out, even when the weather does improve.
2 – Chasing Strava Segments. Lately, instead of doing structured run segments, I’ve looked up some local Strava run segments that I thought I could takedown. Going after Strava KOM’s (bike) or CR’s (run) is a great way to get some hard training in without the mental grind of doing hard intervals. If the fastest time is way out of reach, pick a time that would be challenging for you, and try to beat it. Get a PR (personal record) on a segment you have done many times before, or try to get in the top 10 overall on the segment. The key thing is to set a challenging goal and go after it.
3 – Join a club or team. If you’ve been training solo up to now, joining a team or club is a great way to stay motivated. Right now, many clubs are coming up with different ways to keep their athletes motivated during the Covid-19 lockdown. My local Health and Performance team has been very active and doing lots of fun things. There have been weekly Covid-19 segment challenges created and shared for club members to compete in. In June, we’re doing a virtual run, bike, run event where everyone needs to perform all of the events over a certain amount of time and the fastest times will be tracked and results posted.
4 – Focus on Strength and Flexibility. Many do this over the winter when stuck indoors, but maintaining it the summer usually drops off. Make a conscious effort to focus on a strength and flexibility session 1-2x per week all summer. Take it outdoors to your back deck or even a local park (assuming it’s open and safe to do so). With most gym’s locked down, it’s important to come up with creative ways to perform strength workouts. There are many bodyweight exercises that will add strength and stability. There is a lot you can accomplish when only using one leg at a time. With swimming pools closed, find ways to work those swim muscles. Stretch cords work great, or even if you’re lucky enough to have a pool at home, look into a stretch cord you can put around your waist to keep you swimming in place in a small pool. Hopefully soon, open water will be warm enough to swim in. If you have a lake or other body of water near you, get out with a friend and test out your wetsuit.
5 – Do something different that you never thought you’d do. Have you ever thought about riding for 100K or even 100M or longer? How about a new record time on an indoor trainer? I recently got together with some friends and did an early morning Zwift ride covering the longest route in Zwift, the London Full PRL. It took almost 5 hours and covered a virtual 175K of riding and over 2,500 of virtual elevation gain. For those looking for a real challenge, what about trying the Everesting challenge. The concept of Everesting is fiendishly simple: Pick any hill, anywhere in the world, and complete repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mt Everest. Most do this on a bike, but it could be done on foot or even indoors using Zwift. That might be a bit extreme for most, but the concept is to get out of your comfort zone and routine and try something new and challenging for you.
So while we wait for the world to return to some level of normalcy, don’t let the Covid-19 virus hold you back. Try some of these things and when racing returns, you’ll be ready and stronger than ever before.
By Luke Ehgoetz