Training & COVID-19

COVID-19 & Training

We’ve learned that all of us are on a ridiculous number of email lists since the COVID-19 alarm bells went off. We’ve also learned that many of them aren’t aware that “cancelled” has two Ls.  Yes, everything is cancelled. Right now, there is still hope for summer events and beyond. That timeline seems far off for many of us and indeed it is for others. However, when everything begins again, you’ll find a compressed season that poses many challenges as an athlete that you’ve never experienced.  For us as coaches, this makes for a preparation which is completely new and different and exciting.

However, that future remains on the horizon for now. In the meantime we must all stay vigilant, listen to and heed the advice from the doctors and specialists who are much more knowledgeable than us regarding COVID-19.

In our recent company wide meeting we discussed some subtle changes that you may notice immediately.

First, with everyone changing training and event schedules, your coach will make it a point to provide responses and custom updates to your training within one business day.  If you need guidance immediately, just call. Face to face contact is as important as ever and your coach will also offer scheduled video consults to all clients (Google Hangouts, Skype, etc).

Second, we now have time to prepare properly using new modalities. Source Endurance knows what sort of efforts your early and mid-season events require and how they impact your late season performance.  We can get you to that point with or without events.

Next, with more time we can relax the periodization models a bit and make them less physically stressful.  The reduced stress will leave you stronger overall and able to more effectively resist illness. Leveraging time in this way will result in you being stronger overall while allowing for more rest days.

That’s the news from me.  Sooner or later we’ll all know someone affected by COVID-19.  Coach Matt Hill is in Seattle on the doorstep of the outbreak in the USA.  His precautionary words below should offer solace that we can and will come out on the other side.

Stay safe and wash your hands.

Adam Mills and the Source Endurance coaches.

Howdy folks,

As many of you know, I live in the Seattle area. We’re currently in the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic as it begins to make its way across the United States. My wife is a nurse, and as I write this, she is in downtown Seattle working as part of an outreach effort to provide services to infected (and potentially infected) members of the homeless community.

It’s a pretty scary time for our family and it probably goes without saying that all of this is pretty darn stressful, and as my personal stress level continues to rise, I find myself more than ever seeking solace on – you guessed it – my bike. For me, my daily training is the therapy, the meditation time that makes it possible for me to get through things like this. I’m guessing you might just be wired the same way.

As a cycling coach – hey, maybe as YOUR cycling coach! – I’m probably not the person you would or should look to for advice in response to a pandemic. I can, however, talk to you about the effect this has on your training, and offer some recommendations.

The first and most important thing I would like to offer to you is that we all need to take seriously the concept of Social Distancing. Avoid, as much as possible, coming into contact with people who are not in your immediate family group. Take this to heart, and take it as far as you can. The best course of action is to limit your personal contact to people in your immediate family only, in as much as is possible.

In terms of your training, that recommendation manifests in a couple of ways…

  • Don’t go to any races for a while.  There isn’t much choice about this right now; they’re all cancelled or postponed.
  • Don’t go to the gym. If you want to do some resistance training, there are a large variety of bodyweight exercises that you can do at home, and I – or any of the other SE coaches - would be more than happy to help you with programming a routine.
  • Don’t go on group rides.  Yeah, I know. This one stings a bit. Social Distancing means avoiding all unnecessary contact with people outside our immediate family group, and while it may seem to us like that weekly group ride is pretty damn necessary, in the context of a global pandemic? It can maybe go on pause for a while. Ride by yourself, or with family members. If you don’t share a house with someone, don’t ride with them.

If you really find yourself yearning for the social and/or competitive aspect of that group ride experience, this may be the time to finally check out that “Zwift” thing everyone has been talking about. Honestly, most people find it to be a pretty great experience.

So, that’s the Social Distancing component. What other advice can I offer as a coach?

Maybe take things down a notch.

Even in an absolute best-case scenario, the Covid-19 pandemic is going to have a significant impact on the infrastructure and capacity of your local medical providers. You really don’t want to find yourself needing to visit the hospital in the middle of a crisis like this, and there may not even be an ambulance (or hospital care itself!) available for you if you need it for something that isn’t immediately life threatening. Think about this before you go for a ride, and maybe stay off that barely-rideable backcountry single-track trail you’ve been thinking you might hit on your gravel bike. Maybe take the bike path instead of that 5-minute faster route you always almost get doored on.

Speaking of “taking things down a notch”…

It’s probably not a great idea to beat the heck out of your immune system when the wave of a global pandemic is about to crest over the country. Training/riding has positive benefits in terms of immune function, but you are going to want to keep your training – and life! – stress level below the point it begins to make you more susceptible to opportunistic infections. Frankly, this is a pretty good time to have a coach keeping an eye out for you. I’m going to be paying extra close attention to all the little clues that tell me when an athlete is starting to get run a little bit ragged, and I will err on the side of caution to clamp down on intensity and work load when those clues start to appear. It wouldn’t hurt to be extra diligent in writing down subjective feedback on your training log, just to make sure that kind of stuff gets factored in to your training. Plus, who knows? Maybe your training log will be the basis for your future novel, “Training in the time of Cholera”, something like that…

One last thing…

I know riding is going to help me get through this, and If you’re reading this it probably will you as well. Even as we consciously create physical distance between us, the community that we have built and are part of remains, and will remain. Please drop me a line anytime, for any reason.

Oh… and wash your hands! A lot!

-Matt Hill

Some additional thoughts from Coach Kristen Arnold MS, RDN, CSSD:
  • Communicate with me more! Feel free to reach out in text or calling with any thoughts, concerns, or questions you have. Let's come up with new ways to keep you motivated and get some fun quality training in.
  • Let's keep things fun over the next weeks to come!!! Try new routes, ride a variety of bikes if you have access to them, incorporate other types of exercise like at home strength training or jogging.
  • Let's take this opportunity to dial in weaknessess and optimize other areas of athleticism that could use some attention: nutrition, meal prepping, sleep performance, foam rolling, stretching.
  • Check out one or all of these books: The Brave Athlete, On Top of your Game, How Bad do you Want it?
  • Let's take this opportunity to get your bikes dialed: swap out parts if you need to, declutter your bike area and storage boxes, watch youtube videos on how to do some of your own bike maintenance, overhaul your bikes as much as you are comfortable with
  • This time of social distancing and working from home can be a great opportunity to have time for some of these key aspects of athleticism that otherwise do not get the attention they deserve.