Training stages during lockdown: Maintained or De-trained or over-trained?
The last few months have been interesting, frustrating, amongst a whole set of emotions which changed daily for some of us. We lost a lot of things, but mostly we lost our ability to go out to play, run or bike majorly. Once the lockdown lifted I started to see a clear pattern of behavior on display from both amateurs as well as professionals, and I thought I had to make a post about the same.
Before we dive in, let me be clear these are my views based on data that I have seen analyzed, of both my trainees, some people I mentor and hundreds other who choose to post it on social media (you know when it’s out there, it’s out there). I only am talking about effects of training or lack of; I am not taking into consideration any nutrition, especially supplements, ext. which can have its own effects (let’s just leave it at that).
The Covid lock down, in my eyes has put athletes in three categories: 1) Group A: Who did just enough to stay afloat, maintain a good base, immunity and health.
2) Group B: Took advantage of the extra time in hand, doubled up on training and are now seeing the ill- effects of over-training, fatigue, injury ext.
3) Group C: Didn’t do even basic due to lockdown related issues (everyone’s situation was different), and now have lost a lot of aerobic base and are practically speaking de-trained.
Group A: Maintained! I had written about how the world had changed in the first weeks of lockdown, how it was important more than ever to exercise and stay fit for both of physical as well as mental health, I had also put an advisory then about the perils of over or under doing it, rather making a list of strengths-weakness and working on those in a systematic manner due to the luxury of time. Tip: You have done well in the hardest parts, now be patient and keep working; once the race world opens up you will be ready.
Group B: Over-trained. I will be frank, in the initial weeks the excitement of staying home, the boredom of not going out, resulted in even me hitting sometimes 3 workouts on a day. Having come off my 25th Ironman a couple weeks back, I had a solid base built, but even then I realized if I went too hard too early I would either get burnt –out due to lack of clarity, or get injured, and followed my own advice to limit workouts to quality sessions to work on one thing daily. I would say it has paid dividends for people like me, who as soon as the roads opened up came out in a good base level, with great energy, no injury and particularly for me with a lot of stability and motion control on one side (old ACL tear on right knee).
Had I followed on the path of over doing, I would have gone to the other side which I have seen in a quite a few athletes. They have had one injury or another, or fell ill just about when the world was opening up for us to play outside, or else have no accumulated fatigue and now can’t deliver workouts in the manner they should. Tip: It’s time to take control, focus on rehab-recovery, and once recovered get into a base plan again.
Group C: De-trained. The last group had lot of issues in the lockdown, some very genuine that made up of no places to run, stayed in containment zones so couldn’t even head out in their lanes ext., fear of police chasing them, or fear of getting corona, and not having bike trainer among other ones. Naturally there a loss in fitness, “de-training,” if one was to estimate the loss, it can be between 7-10% each week. Now if you didn’t do any aerobic activity you lost a lot of fitness, if you did some aerobic-some strength you came out a little bit better. Tip: Worry not; you have ample time to get back to training and in a safe manner. Start building the mileage slowly, don’t worry about paces yet.
I hope you can relate to one of the categories listed above and it will help you chart your future training/ racing chart. I would like to hear where you are, and what steps you plan to take going forward to achieve your set targets. Keep training, stay safe, cheers!