• Mark Turnbull

Training through the COVID-19 pandemic

There is no getting away from the current global public health crisis, it is disrupting many aspects of our daily lives at home and work. Schools are closed, holidays cancelled, workers advised to avoid unnecessary journeys and work from home. Now both professional and amateur sporting events scheduled for this spring have either been cancelled or postponed.


"Nobody can say when the next race will be," Van der Poel told Het Nieuwsblad. "That makes it difficult. What are we training for? Even the Olympics isn't a sure thing anymore."


Van der Poel, like many athletes, is questioning what they are training for, or if it is worth continuing to train at all. Your training plan is secondary to your own health and the safety of your family and friends, however if you can continue training there are a number of strategies you can use to get you through the next few months.


Training can provide several important benefits in addition to improved sport-specific performance.


Safe training routines

Maintaining fitness is beneficial for your immune system and your training routine is something you can control. However, very intense training, especially coupled with inadequate energy intake, increases fatigue and being run down makes you more vulnerable to infections. So continue training but don’t suddenly increase your workload based on the false idea that more exercise will improve immune function even more than normal.


Outdoor exercise is a good option

Get outside, as endurance athletes we have the opportunity to exercise outdoors and we can practice social distancing while riding or running or hiking. Spending time outdoors is great for your general wellbeing and allows you to switch off from the stresses you may be facing at work and at home.


Stress relief is important

If you are getting frustrated about postponed or cancelled events, threats to your livelihood, concern for loved ones, using exercise as a way to manage stress can be very effective. Training gives you an opportunity to do something positive for yourself. and get away from the news and other stresses for a while.


Postponed events, a blessing in disguise

For the majority of my athletes who are competing later this season, March-May marked a very important phase in their 'Build' training block. So not getting sick for the next several weeks was already a priority, as the mixed a heavy training load with early season races. We are all frustrated that upcoming events have been postponed or cancelled, but you can change this negative into a positive. A training block without racing actually allows us to concentrate workload and increase the training stimulus on a specific area. Tapering and recovery from racing can disrupt this focus during a specific 'Build' training block. Maybe you and your coach have to restructure your annual plan, and be ready to perform at your best when the quarantine is lifted.


As we are enter this difficult period, it is important to keep the COVID-19 public health crisis in perspective. Eventually the crisis will subside. In the meantime use training as a means of maintaining routine and relieving everyday stresses.

Stay safe and look after loved ones and the vulnerable.


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