Here we are 8 months into the pandemic. I’m not sure if any of us would have thought it would have lasted this long. Possibly researchers knew, but I think most of us had really no idea what to expect. What about you? I didn’t know. I do know personally for me, I’ve hit every emotion. Fear of the unknown, worry, frustration, and gratitude for the ability to be at home with my family. I’ve always worked from home (at least since having my boys). So my days are fairly similar.
As a triathlon and running coach, I’ve seen my athletes and friends hit similar emotions. Some are able to work from home, while others are on the front lines. Some are overworked, exhausted, trying to figure out how to keep their jobs or companies running, while having kids at home, and some are single and home alone (bringing out loneliness and isolation). There do seem to be the rare folks who have less stress, have been able to kick up their training and are loving life. If that’s you, you are blessed. If that’s not you, that’s ok. We each walk a different path in life and we each have our own struggles. Even without a pandemic, our lives are not the same. Whether it’s that you’re a single parent trying to train for a half ironman, or you’re a young mother trying to juggle training with young kids, or you’re trying to balance your family and career, or that you’re a busy working professional who works 60 hour weeks. We each start out on a different path and no path is the same. The difference now, is the pandemic has highlighted it. While some have the ability to train more, others are wondering “how the heck am I ever going to train?”
I get it and I hear you. As a coach I have always helped parents figure out how to train efficiently so that they can have maximum time with their family. I’ve always worked their training around their career and family. For most of my athletes, training is fun, it’s a stress relief. They don’t have 20 hours a week to spend week after week training. But now with the pandemic, training might be even harder. So what do you do?
- Realize that you are on a different path than someone else. You can’t compare yourself to someone else. This holds true even without the pandemic. So, no more comparing. When race season arrives in 2021, you might be lining up next to someone that had ample time to train, and you might be lining up next to someone who had trouble fitting in training. That’s ok. No comparing. Once you realize that it’s ok not to compare, no matter how you do, it will be ok. And once you realize that you are not defined by the time on the clock (or the number on the scale-but that’s another post) you’ll be ok. You are not defined by your race or time.
- If you don’t have access to a pool, you have a few options. Open water swimming is an option for some in warmer climates. And if you’d believe me, I have some master’s swimming friends who are swimming in the lake here, in 51 degree water. So whether that’s getting in the lake early next year, or continuing to swim when it’s chilly, that’s an option. Another option is to use swimming cords. You can use swimming specific cords to simulate your swim practice. This is another blog post on it’s own, however if you have 5-10min a day, you can “swim” with cords and strengthen your shoulders and back. You just need a few minutes a day. I’ve created a swimming program that includes pre-hab, a strength program and swimming workouts with cords. You can check that out here if you’re interested in working on a limiter through strength and conditioning.
- If gym workouts are not accessible of you’re not comfortable, it’s feasible to train at home. Now you might not make huge strength gains if all you have is your body weight or some lighter weights, but that’s ok. You can still work on maintaining your fitness, and releasing some of that stress. There are lot of free YouTube videos that could keep you going, and there are subscriptions like Beachbody on demand or Peloton that have seen huge increases in demand. Many coaches and teams have moved to doing workouts on Zoom. I know my athletes and our team has been doing cycling class, strength class and core/mobility class online together. Not only are we keeping in shape, but we have the social and team aspect which is so important.
- If you have a young family that needs you, train while they are sleeping or napping. It might not be the most fun to get up at 5am or stay up and ride at 8pm, but sometimes we just have to do it. What I tell myself (as a mom of young boys) and others is “this is just a phase in our life, one day we’ll have more time.” So if you’re used to having the kids in school, or daycare, and they aren’t now, figure out when you could train. Or, possibly train with them. Push them in a jog stroller, tow them in a bike trailer. Go to a park and run some sprints while they play nearby.
- If you have a busy career and you are having trouble fitting things in, or possibly you’re just overwhelmed with everything on your plate and you can’t seem to make yourself train, start with 20-30min a day. Just commit to starting and sticking with it for 20 min. It could be a walk, a ride, some yoga, or core work. You can do it.
Next year there will be athletes lining up that had Covid and recovered. There will be athletes lining up that struggled to keep their small business afloat while training suffered. There will be parents who tried to figure out how to juggle kids at home, plus work plus family. Then there will be athletes that were able to kick their fitness into the next gear and are primed for success. No matter what, you’re all going to be lining up. You’re all athletes that have done what you can to get to race day. Maybe that day will just be a “thank goodness I’m getting to race.” Or maybe it will be “I’m in the best shape of my life.” Or it’s possible it’s “I’ve lived through something awful and thank God I am here to tell you about it.”
No matter what, you are lining up as yourself, ready to take on the race. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t even worry if your time isn’t where you would have hoped. As we move past the pandemic (one day) get back to a more normal life, you’ll get to train hard again. You’ll hit those PRs and reach those goals. We might have a few stumbling blocks, but that’s ok. Life is messy and things don’t always (or usually) go as planned. If you can, fit in your training. You will feel better. If you have a group of friends that train, reach out to them. Even virtually training can be fun. If you’d like to have some team mates to train with, check out our team. We’re online and virtually training together. We’d love to have you. Support and community will keep us together. Stay safe and healthy, you’ve got this!