With the majority of Europe in lock-down and races being wiped off the calendar like falling dominoes, you might be wondering whether you should stop training altogether and wait for the pandemic to be over. It’s both frustrating and incredibly disappointing to see your races and goals being cancelled, it’s a true test of your mental resolve, dedication and long-term focus. How much do you want it?
You will be asking your self questions; should I run a marathon on my own anyway, should I stop training altogether, why should I carry on? You have to do what is right for you. For example, if you are running a marathon and have raised lots of money for a charitable cause, then you may want to run the distance anyway. It’s important to know that you don’t have to do this, just do what feels right for you, the option that makes you the least stressed. Everyone will understand and no-one will ask for their donations back. They have seen how hard you have been training and they will have seen how devastated you are to have your races cancelled.
You have to look to the future and not focus on the ‘now’. Think ahead to next season and consider your long-term goals. Make new goals, if necessary. What do you want to achieve? Is this actually an opportunity to get ahead of your competition? Do you need to step-up your goals a level now you have longer to really build your base level through some focused training without distraction?
One really important thing to remember is that if you throw the towel in, stop training and just give-up, you will have to start all over again. You have worked so hard on building your base over winter, you have years of progressive and continuous training in your muscles and hours and hours of muscle memory. If you stop training now, you will just throw that all away. In six to nine months time, when you start training again, all of that will be lost and you will start from scratch. It can be so hard and frustrating to start from the beginning again, demotivating seeing your power number a fraction of what they used to be, and lots of people struggle to get back to where they were before - because it can be a hard slog and they’re annoyed at themselves for not having carried on. What a waste!
Furthermore, you can guarantee that there will be people who continue to train while in isolation, throughout the period where the country is in lock-down, these are your competitors. These are the people that will WIN next seasons races, they will be so far ahead of all of those people who gave up because they lost their heads when their races were cancelled. These are the people who will qualify for the World Championships, The Europeans, KONA! I can guarantee that.
Now is the time to decide whether you want to get your PB, whether you want to win, to qualify for the Europeans, the Worlds or Kona.
Choose how you want to view this crisis, are you going to give up, sit at home and do nothing or are you going to choose to win, to qualify, to be better than you have ever been before?
This is an even more crucial time if you are on the cusp of getting that qualification spot, on the edge of the podium. Now is your chance to get ahead of the competition and train when everyone else has resigned themselves to time-out.
Don’t get me wrong, this is also the perfect opportunity to recharge, rest and look after yourself. It’s important to take a week or two of downtime, longer if you’ve just hit your peak marathon or Ironman training load. Take the training stress away and let your body recover, rebuild and boost your immune system.
It is more important than ever to have a healthy and strong immune system, so if you have been on the verge of over-training then stop, rest, recover and recharge. Not only will you be able to fight against any illnesses and infections, but your body will rebuild stronger and your future training will thank you for it.
Over-training can be really detrimental to your body, short- and long-term. Taking a little bit of time out isn’t a bad thing and could actually save you from excessive training. Catch up on sleep, eat nutritious healthy foods and do some exercise that you enjoy, such as walking in the hills or a jog the trails - don’t train. Then, when you feel fully recovered, commence a new training program with a new focus. Extend your base training period and really take advantage of longer, steadier Zone 2 rides and runs. Take the time to trust in the low-zone training system and reap the benefits next year.
It will be really interesting to see the first few races after the pandemic lock-down, it will be really obvious who the dedicated athletes are, those who have a strong mental resolve and the true desire to achieve their goals.
We are continuing to work hard with our athletes, adapting training programs in response to changes to routines, kit availability and confinement. If you want to continue training, then we will make it possible for you, we will help you get ahead of all of those athletes who are giving up.
Keep your head, focus on your goals, keep training. Win races and get those qualification slots!