Training Through Trying Times

We are all setting into a new week of social distancing, closed facilities, the need to stay at home whenever possible, appreciating those on the front lines who do have to keep working so we have the basics needed at home base, finding ways to care for those most vulnerable –– and staying sane in part to our training which has been uprooted with so many races cancelled.
I am never short of suggestions but thought it better to ask one who has been managing this issue well ahead of us. Our International CT3 star Tom, who has been stationed in Italy for over two years and has been in prep for weeks and in actual lock down mode for days – with a baby on the way in just days may I say! Read his great post on how to embrace the situation and training as best you can. He has a great take on treadmill running which some will have access to. See a few coach added notes on how to adapt that to smart and safe outside running as well….
Tom’s Take:
I’m live in Italy, which has been on lockdown for four days now. I stopped going to the pool about two weeks ago out of an abundance of caution as we saw the virus take hold in the North. I’ve been outside only twice in the last week, both times to go to the grocery store. My wife who is 39 weeks pregnant hasn’t been out in over a week.
But, you can still train at home or indoors. This is what I have learned after a 15 month stint in Afghanistan living on a compound and now living in a non-cycle friendly city. I have a treadmill at home* and have put about 1200 miles on it in the last 18 months. Over the last 18 months and 3000+ miles on the bike, I’ve only ridden outside five times and three of them were races. (*go for solo or small group runs only as a safe outside alternative)
My non-training advice is that the initial panic/shock passes. Then things find a rhythm, which is actually kinda calming. Don’t go out in areas that would have a larger crowd source if you don’t need to and wash your hands. Think of projects to do around the house. That closet you never get to clean out? Do it! When’s the last time you organized your kitchen? Do it! Yes, this all sucks. But the only thing that you can control is how you react to it. Just like a race or a marathon, something isn’t going to go to plan. It’s how you are prepared for it and how you deal with it that matters. Oh, and wash your hands.

Tackling Indoor Training and Treadmill Time:

1 – Boredom: You are going to be bored on the treadmill or trainer. Accept it, embrace it, and figure out a way to move past it. It will come in waves, but you have to stay the course. And go for those solo and small safe distance group runs to give you fresh air if treadmills are not available. But take all smart precautions needed (yes, wash your hands).
2 – Entertainment: Anything on the treadmill or the trainer longer than 2 hours and I will treat myself to a movie. Something trashy or something with a lot of action that I don’t have to really follow the dialogue. I’m talking overnight flight kind of movies, the ones that nobody wants to watch with you. You will be surprised how quickly the time will pass. This is also one time coach says a good playlist in both ears is allowed.
3 – Entertainment Part 2: You are a captive audience and this is an opportunity to have (semi-)un-divided attention. There are a ton of videos and channels out there. From GTN, Triathlon Taren, The Ginger Runner, Billy Yang, Gwen Jorgenson, Ben Parker, etc. They have tons of tips and interesting content. I’m never going to take 10-20 min out of my day to watch a youtube video, but when I have nothing else to engage my mind, these are perfect (and free). There’s also a lot of inspiration in them.
4 – Inspiration Part 1: There are a ton of race videos out there. Rewatch some of them while you are training on the treadmill or trainer. Watch the races that you participated in. Remember the highs and the lows. It makes what you are doing inside feel worth it to remember what it is like to be outside.
5. – Inspiration Part 2: There are a ton of running and triathlon inspiration videos out there. On youtube I am partial to SZTRI which is based on race videos. Yes, some of them are corny, but they are designed to psych you up a bit.
6 – Communication: If you live with someone, make sure to communicate what you are doing and how they can reach you if they need to. If I am not expecting Jess to come in to the room while I am on the treadmill, it scares the poop out of me if I am zoned and there is suddenly someone in the room. It’s dangerous as it throws me off my stride. Before each workout I tell her what I am doing and for how long. If she is working on something and needs my input, she knows to text me first before coming in. My phone sits in front of me on the treadmill just in case.
7 – Your Phone: No phone calls. No Facebook. I keep mine next to me so that I can communicate if NECESSARY. Unless you are well practiced in running with a phone in your hand, don’t do it. It’s not fun to accidentally drop your phone and have it propelled off the treadmill straight into a wall.
8 – Try New Things: If I have a new nutrition plan idea or a new product that I want to try, I always do it during an indoor session. If something doesn’t agree with me or things go off the rails, this is a great opportunity to have what you need to fix things within reach.
9 – Don’t Skip Stretching: Seriously. It’s easy to overlook. You’re used to a routine as you head out the door. This is new. Don’t forget stretching!
10 – Prepare to Train the Night Before – Motivation to stare at a wall and run 13 miles is difficult. Prepare what you need the night before. It takes the edge of the malaise. Prep bottles. Get out what you plan to wear. Lay everything out just like you are headed out the door.
11 – Race Planning Ahead – My #1 tip. Races are getting cancelled and that sucks. But this is only the beginning of the race season. Focus on what you have coming up in the back half of the year. Plan things out to to the finest detail. Make lists of your race bags. Figure out where you are going to eat the night before the race. Memorize the course. This is usually something we start doing a few weeks before a race. Do it now. It will get you psyched up and motivated to train.
12 – The Differences from Outside – Strike that, my #1 tip is bodyglide and lotion. When you run outside you have a natural wind to dry sweat. On a treadmill or trainer you do not. Anything longer than an hour and I have to lotion about 30 min before a training session and put bodyglide on areas that I know from experience will chafe. Fans are KEY. Get that air moving!
Thanks so much Tom!!

Coach T’s added recommendations: Team up with fellow runners/triathletes by text and Face Time.  Come to the scheduled track and small group runs trusting that social distancing and protocols will be followed. When home stay is best, schedule virtual training sessions together to keep the social element and accountability in play which is key for all of us to help feel supported and connected through this challenging time. And remember – Coach T is here for you – athlete, alums, friends and new athletes alike. Text, call, or email me anytime to help adapt your training, connect you with others to team up with virtually, and just for the cheers of support you know I always have ready!

We will get through this together!

Coach T.

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