How to adapt to lockdown
So I wanted to give a bit of guidance to athletes who are trying to make sense of how to train right now. If you are being coached then your first port of call should be your coach, but if you don’t have a coach, then I’m here to help.
Find good information and support
Everyone is going to have a different take on this, as honestly none of us have ever had to cope with a world event on this scale, but one thing that we will all agree on is that this is a time of major life stress for everyone, and we need to get through it in the best way that we can in our own way. First of all I would look for trusted news sources at this time, look for good information and use that as your guidance, and limit your exposure to things that make you feel anxious, you may need to cut your social media use if it is harming you right now, reach out to people who can support you, and also when we are on social media think about, what you post, is it kind? Is it helpful?
Adjust your mindset
Don’t forget that training is its own stress and if you overdo it at this time you are setting yourself up for feeling bad, stressed, out and not coping. Mental health, and overall health, must be a priority at this time. We can do this through exercise, nutrition, and hydration. We need to look at what feels good. If any of you follow Yoga with Adriene, her community is called find what feels good, and this is an ideal time for you to find out what feels good to you, you’ll soon find out what works for you and what doesn’t.
Check your situation
Lets look at work situations, you may be working more, and have more work related stress. You may be working from home so have a bit more free time on your hands, you may be unable to work and have no income. These are all situations that you may be in at the moment. Then you have your training. Some of you will have had your main races cancelled, some of you will be unsure if your race will be going ahead or not, so what do you do?
Find your why?
First of all I would ask yourself why you do the sport? Is it for fitness, community, health, to lose weight, to perform, all reasons are valid and all are individual. For me it’s fitness, health and performance.
Then you need to look at your goal race, has it been postponed? Cancelled? Deferred? Still may be on? Your goal in training will then align with that. If your race is cancelled for this year, then look at your why. Mine is to maintain fitness, as I want to be able to compete if a race does comes up that I feel like I want to do, I want to be able to perform as best as I can in these times.
For some of you it may be a sense of community, in which case you can organise virtual meet ups, like many of you are doing, if you are doing triathlon for health reasons, then exercising up to a point is going to keep you healthy. I say up to a point because if you go too deep into training then you can compromise your immune system, and add to stress that is already there. This is an opportunity to add in strength and conditioning, practise recovery, eg yoga, just breathing and being aware of how you are feeling and what you need.
Adapt your training
If your goal race is a way off, I’m thinking about IM Wales or any late season races, then you may be stressing about losing fitness, swim fitness in particular. Just remember everyone is in the same situation, do what you can, maintain core strength, do some swim specific exercises, maintain your fitness but now is not the time to be building fitness. Remember you don’t want to get yourself into a training “hole” A lot of people follow the Don Fink IM plan which increases distance every week, you will want to back off and maintain the level that you are at now, then when you have less life stress you can start building again. The rule of thumb is to increase training load across the board at around 10%. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, look at what you CAN do and implement it
Think about your why, and align your goals with that. Find what feels good for you, and adapt as you need to.
I’ll finish with a quote from a book that I read recently, called “The way the world thinks” by Julian Baggini. The quote is “What is yin yang? Yin Yang is timing. In other words yin yang responds appropriately to the precise situation as it is now, not as it was or will be. A wise action today could be a foolish one tomorrow.”
So take each day as it comes, and make the best decisions that you can, in the situation that you are in. Be grateful for the small things and we will get through this unusual time.