Stay On Track Training for Races During COVID-19

training for races

TO STAY ON TRACK OR NOT…

To say that staying on track with training for races has been easy would be a lie.  It’s required some creativity on our parts without the normal free reign access to the gym.  I’m sure that’s the case for most folks… so, good news — we’re all in the same boat right now when it comes to training for races.

There have been ups and downs, clarity and confusion, motivation and sometimes lack thereof, but our consistency is what has helped tremendously.  In speaking with our strength training partner, Palmer Shape, it became obvious that unless you have a well-stocked home gym, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to follow their normal training program, but with a few modifications you should still be able to be productive in this arena.  It takes time, creativity, and effort, but most people should be able to minimize their losses and maintain what they’ve already gained during this weird worldwide quarantine dilemma.

We wanted to discuss our “normal” routine vs the “quarantine” routine in an effort to help others that may be feeling lost, stuck, or just not motivated.

WHAT WE NORMALLY DO:

We normally include cardio, lift, and flex sessions into our OCR strength training.  Our choice of cardio ranges from Palmer Shape cardio programming to kickboxing, mountain biking, and of course – running.  Obviously, we aren’t necessarily able to lift heavy right now.  Our heaviest dumbbells at home are 40lbs. And, of course, we normally race!

SO, HOW HAVE WE STAYED ON TRACK?

Cardio–

We’ve naturally been running a bit more. However, our Palmer Shape programs have always incorporated cardio that doesn’t REQUIRE a gym, boring treadmills, or other “cardio” machines.  Because of this, we’re still able to pump out our cardio programming with slight modifications here and there.

The cardio programs we do are unlike most… they are unique, different, and fun. We look forward to them because they’re written to help us succeed and they think outside of the cardio box. No boring “go get on a treadmill and stay there for an hour” routines here. We haven’t really missed a beat cardio-wise.

I have had to forego kickboxing with my martial arts dojo being forced to do everything virtually via Zoom.  I’ve tried to tune in when I can because shadow boxing is still a great workout, but I’ve resorted to using this time for house projects that have been put on the back burner for too long, honestly.

Eddie’s still able to mountain bike because it’s a solo activity on trails (ours have remained open so long as you’re practicing social distancing when you pass others.)

Running – Eddie has written, rewritten, and rewritten again our running programs.  Hard to know what your program should be when month-by-month sees another race cancelled.  The target keeps moving, so he keeps rewriting.  We don’t want to peak for no reason, but also don’t want our legs to forget how to move.  We’ve done many purposeful runs, but not as strict as before.

Flex–

We’re still able to maintain our flex programs, but have incorporated more overall stretching, foam rolling, and yoga (we’re Yoga with Adriene fans over here) in general.  The point is to keep your muscles happy, and we’ve been able to accomplish that.

Lift–

This has been our biggest transition.  We’ve had to switch to more bodyweight and odd-object exercises as opposed to heavy lift days at the gym.  We’ve done a combo of things to try and maintain current fitness level and gains with the idea that we’re still training for races (whenever they may be).  Our lift days have consisted of the Savage Race Anywhere virtual challenges, our own Travel Workouts, and some of our current off-season program.

Luckily, these travel workouts consist of 9 workouts written specifically for when racers travel to races and have extremely minimal equipment! Six of the workouts require no equipment and 3 require very minimal equipment (such as a set of lighter dumbbells). These have really been a saving grace. People have been texting me to tell me how much of a butt-kicking they’re getting from them (in a good way of course!)

Race–

To date, we’ve done the Savage Anywhere I virtual OCR race (the “Race” version), and will be doing the “Blitz” version as well.  This takes care of 28 workouts alone and consist of some cardio and strength combined. (Each one you sign up for is 14 workouts).

We’ve also done a local running group’s virtual race.  Hosted by Aravaipa Running, we took to the trails and raced at our race pace for this virtual run.

We plan to conquer Bonefrog’s virtual option, and we’re signed up for the virtual Hot Chocolate 15k coming up as well.

Having virtual races helps give you something to aim (and train) for in lieu of normal in-person races.  Bonus: you generally still get a medal (real or virtual) to reward your efforts. If you’re low on motivation right now, I highly suggest signing up for a virtual race.  Doing so can help spur you back into having something to look forward to and feel accomplished for completing.

HOW TO MODIFY EXERCISES:

Some simple hacks if you’re without a gym:
  • No weights at all? –> transition to more bodyweight exercises (squats, push-ups, lunges, etc…)
  • No pull-up bar? –> Use a (mature/strong) tree branch, goal post, roof siding (provided you can safely access it), or see if Amazon has indoor pull-up bars in stock.  You can also do more plank, push-ups, or static push-ups.
  • No treadmill? –> Run outside, or switch to biking/swimming for the time being.
  • No dumbbells? –> Do heavy carries.  Make a sandbag (supplies at your hardware store), fill a bucket up! Use rocks or other heavy small objects like marbles, coins, canned goods…or sand.  You can also load up a backpack with canned goods and make a ruck (or shove your sandbag in it).  Use canned goods, water bottles, or other household items you can hold onto for dumbbells to incorporate them with bodyweight exercises.
  • No stairclimber or stairs? –> Look around.  Do you have something you can step up and down from? Do it! For me, it’s our outdoor fire pit.

What else are you doing during this time to make sure your training for races stays on track? If we can answer questions or be a resource for you, let us know!  

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