Look Long-Term to Plan Your Training With The Pandemic

Adapt Your Endurance Training in the Pandemic

A friend of mine was logging a lot of long indoor trainer sessions this winter to prepare for the Dirty Kanza scheduled for May. 

But most of the spring and summer races have been cancelled or postponed.

The fall events are not looking good either.

Moreover, many WAC clients and members were also planning for the Milwaukee Marathon in April, and that has also been cancelled, although organizers have created a Virtual Run

So what do you do when your spring – or maybe summer – event has been cancelled or postponed? 

This means you need to change your training and plan your training with the pandemic.

Stay Focused and Calm

There is nothing you can do about your events getting cancelled or postponed. Zero.

Getting frustrated and/or angry is understandable, but ultimately, you’re going to have to accept these strange and challenging times.

Everyone is going through the same thing.

No one is getting some kind of unfair advantage.

Unless you live in a severely restricted area, like parts of Europe, you’re still probably able to get out for rides or runs.

Was All That Training Wasted? 

First of all, no training is ever “wasted.” Any training stress you put on your body, helps muscles strengthen and adapt. Unless, of course, you do too much. More on that later. 

Second, you’ve been building aerobic fitness through your training. All of your aerobic training helps your cells add mitochondria, and that creates more potential energy.

Third, you’ve gained some valuable experience. You’ve learned something about what works for training, nutrition, and rest. 

Now What? Plan Your Training With COVID

As a personal trainer for the Wisconsin Athletic Club, and since the clubs are now all closed, I have a lot of time on my hands! I’ve been doing a boat load of research and reading.

But I could spend a lot of time on the bike or on trails training. 

But I know too much training right now would actually set me back.

Plus too much training can weaken my immune system, making me more susceptible to COVID-19.

So what should we do if we were training for an event that has been cancelled or postponed? How to plan training with COVID-19?

Here are some options:

1. How to Plan Training with the Pandemic: Smash Some Segments

If you’ve been peaking toward some spring races, you’ll have some good form. Spend the next week or two setting some personal records!

Use some of the form you?ve gained and get on Zwift or outside on Strava to smash some KOMs or segments. Treat the segments as a race and see what you can do. 

2. How to Plan Training with the Pandemic: Take an Injury Break 

When you’re hurt or sick, you need to take time off. Most of us know that if we have a forced break, we come back stronger!

You can take some time to just rest, read books, and watch Netflix. Maybe we actually talk with our families and spend some good time with them so that when we are able to return to racing, they won’t mind as much.

3. How to Plan Training with the Pandemic: Return to Base

Use the opportunity to get more fun cycling or run time in. Structure your training loosely, doing one or two long, slow efforts a week, and one or two moderate, longer interval days. 

And by loosely, I mean have a “sort of” plan. When you go out for the long runs or rides, don’t focus at all on the numbers. Just go. Have fun. Take a break from serious training and ride or run by feel.

For your long days, just keep it slow and easy. Go find some trails in the woods. Run through neighborhoods you haven?t seen before. Explore different parts of the county on your bike.

And the intervals should likewise be moderate, around 85 to 90 percent of your threshold HR or power. (In the talk test, you would be able to hold a minimal conversation with few words.) Those intervals should probably be a little longer, depending on your sport and goals.

Do some body weight strength training. Do unilateral work, do posterior chain work (hamstrings, glutes, back), move laterally, do some yoga to build your movement strength.

Decide what’s best for you. If you have another event planned for late summer or fall, you can start preparing for it now.

If it’s far enough in advance, and you have a little energy, go seek some segments. If you’re a bit tired from everything – including anxiety about COVID-19 – take some time for yourself and rest.

And if you’re ready to start training again, get after it. Plan your work, and work your plan. Let me know if you need help.

How to Plan Training with the Pandemic: Caveats/ Extras

1. Don’t use your time to really ramp up the training. I’m obviously tempted to do a few month-long training camps with a lot of long miles and long runs. But don’t.

As your body wears down, so too does your body’s immune system, making you more susceptible to illness, including COVID-19.

Plus, you might end up overtraining and setting you back before any racing this summer or fall.

So keep your training “normal.” Sure, take advantage of the time and do some longer rides or runs. But just keep it simple!

2. Keep calm about race dates. No one knows how long this is going to take. Race promoters are losing money since the permits, numbers, etc., are all pre-paid. So stay calm, be courteous, and give race organizers a lot of slack. 

3. Use some of the time to build some strength and mobility. Get outside and use the playgrounds around you for strength work, particularly single leg forward and side work. Or stay inside and do pushups, core work, and single leg lower body work!

4. This can be a time to ride or run solo or only with your partner/ family. Group rides should be off-limits for a while with social distancing. Go explore new places and have new adventures. Use this time as a positive as best you can. 

Want to know more about what you can achieve? 

My purpose with Simple Endurance Coaching is to help cyclists and runners achieve their goals with more strength, endurance, and mobility. 

If you liked this article, please share it with others.

Sign up on the website to get a free copy of my e-booklet, “The Simple and Mostly Complete Guide to Strength Training for Everyday Endurance Athletes.”

You can also opt in to receive my weekly blog posts about what works in endurance sports. 

Contact me or sign up for Virtual Coffee so we can discuss your goals, ask questions, and talk about making your endurance training more effective, fun, and Simple.

Paul Warloski is a: 

  • USA Cycling Level 3 Coach
  • RRCA Running Coach
  • Training Peaks Level 2 Coach
  • RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
  • Certified Personal Trainer