It’s no surprise that “life as we know it” has changed – our normal lives are shaken up and we are all out of our routines. Fitness centers and pools are closed. We are unable to exercise in groups and with friends. Yet, it is still important to continue exercising to stay healthy and remain focused on our fitness goals. Personally, I have already had four planned running races within the months of March/April/May canceled or rescheduled. Racing and pace leading at endurance events is a huge part of my life.
So, the questions are “Why” and “How”. Why is it important to stay in shape if your goal races have been delayed to 4-6 months from now or if your fitness center is closed? How does one accomplish these goals by redirecting focus?
One avenue to tackle this is redirecting focus to recovery. Try using this time to get some extra sleep – doesn’t that sound nice? Another way is to work on soft tissue manipulation through foam rolling, trigger point work and stretching, which are important and tend to get neglected when exercising more frequently and time is at a premium.
It is critical to loosening up tight muscles and tense fascia that wraps around them so that we can get them “firing” properly when training. Or, maybe we have a lingering injury/issue we have not addressed – now is the best time to fix the problem. My wife, Michelle for example, has had a lingering TFL injury for 3 weeks now, which is aggravated during running. So, her current focus has been on foam rolling and trigger point work near the injured area, along with glute activation exercises. She has also been biking indoors more to maintain aerobic fitness.
Another way we can stay engaged with exercise is to work different energy systems by periodizing our training and getting out of our comfort zone. If you’re accustomed to working out indoors and are not the biggest fan of aerobic/cardio exercise, now can be the time you get outside for longer walks on paths or in the woods, begin running or go for a bike ride. By developing more endurance, it will make your indoor strength workouts and conditioning classes easier. For example, I am personally redirecting training to develop more power (plyometrics, jumping, Tabata sprints on Airdyne) and maintain upper body strength with loaded carries and overhead presses (while I’m unable to swim). After a few winter months of higher running volume, I’m realizing my current weaknesses – lower body power and glute specific movements will keep me on target for when races hopefully resume in summer.
Basically, now is ideal to work on your weaknesses, focus on recovery, target different energy systems and switch up your fitness routine to remain engaged. Doing so during this time will give you needed mental sanity and physical health while you recalibrate and anticipate a return to our normal lives. Best wishes as you stay healthy and focused!