The way ahead in uncertain times.
If there was a period in our life’s where uncertainty was king it is 2020 for sure. For all of us our lives have been turned upside down, especially for athletes there is no clarity on travel, on races, heck there is no clarity for us when we will even swim, and when our group workouts will resume. The past few weeks, I have been approached by trainees; a couple friends based abroad wanting me to talk about how to handle both physical + mental training, as well as stress in these uncertain times. Whether you are beginner, amateur, elite or professional we are all in the same boat, here are my thoughts for the near future.
1) Maintenance is the key: With no races in sight, majority of our workouts should be enjoyable, meaningful but ones that lead us to enjoying the process. There is nothing wrong in taking an extra day off or two, heck I have given a couple of my athletes a week off and they have been just fine. Don’t stress about losing fitness in a week, rather it will recharge your batteries. With work from home being the norm for lot of us, it seems we have lost that work-life balance. Don’t let training add extra stress; rather use your daily workouts to take your mind off work and other stressors.
2) Manage volume and intensity: Have you ever had an exercise band, which over a period of time just snapped? Why did this happen, at some point the load bigger for it to handle. Imagine what will happen if you keep training at a high intensity for several months, you will either damage your immune system, fall ill often, or get injured. Right now be wise, create a structure where only 20% of your workouts are hard, 80% are easy. Trust me when races are announced you will have a solid base to keep adding both intensity & volume, and a person is happy, healthy will always be ahead of anyone who can’t start due to an injury or illness.
3) Prioritize & Re-prioritize: I work with a couple who take turns in choosing their events, to maintain a family balance. As luck would one qualified for the world championships that got postponed to October 2021, which would have been the year for the other person to fulfill their dreams. It would mean that either one person gives up on their plans for a race/ event or we reprioritize our goals. That’s what we did we took the stress out of the game, we discussed as team would be the best possible outcome and came up with a plan. For a lot of us (me included) our main race or something we were really gunning for is probably moved to 2021. Focus on what you can control right now, the races, travel etx will sort itself out at some point.
4) Be your own hero: That’s right, what better time to be happy with what you do on a daily basis, sometimes it’s only enough to stay afloat. So be it, the competition is the mirror right now, so give yourself credit for hanging in there.
5) Be thankful: Be thankful you have the physical ability, the motivation and finances to think about your next race. Having family support is crucial, and what better time than now to spend some extra few hours weekly with them. This pause phase for us maybe a time to really enjoy precious moments, gratitude will always take us further in life.
I had once read somewhere, that patience is also a form of action. Right now be patient, enjoy life, and lets hope we are back out traveling & racing very soon.