Coach Opinion: Four COVID Training Questions

Coach talking with athlete during an Ironman
May 13, 2020

D3 Staff


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Well, by now we’ve all (mostly) adjusted to the sudden shock of closings, cancellations, and stay-at-home orders. We’ve found new ways to move through life in the short-term and are now starting to think about maybe not the long-term, but the medium-term implications of coronavirus on our lives, and in particular on training and racing. Trying to look ahead three to six months raises a bunch of questions and while I don’t have definitive answers, I always have opinions:

Are we racing this summer / fall?

I have been asked this question by most of my athletes, and unfortunately, I don’t have any inside knowledge on this - or a crystal ball, which is what I’d really prefer to have in my bag of tricks these days. Given that we really don’t know yet what the summer and fall have in store, how you choose to approach the rest of 2020 should align with what makes you feel most comfortable. Do you want to avoid disappointment? Then defer your races to 2021. Do you like having a goal, regardless of whether it has to be altered? Then keep / add some races to your calendar, even if those dates are tentative.

Will my pool re-open in time for me to train for my race?

I really, really wish I knew. My belief, based on zero conversations with zero race directors, is that it would be irresponsible for races to happen - or more specifically, the swim leg of races - without adequate time to train. So, I think that if races re-start soon after or along with pools re-opening, we’ll be seeing races offering bike-run options or canceling the swim altogether. Ultimately, remember that you are not required to put yourself in a situation for which you’re not prepared. If something isn’t a good idea for you, just don’t do it.

Why am I so tired?

It’s important to remember that life stress lives in your legs the same way training stress does. And daily life right now exists on a stress level that most of us have never experienced before. Everything that used to be on auto-pilot and feel normal and routine - going to the grocery store, running errands, even putting gas in your car - now requires thought and energy and is just generally draining. So don’t worry about it if your workouts feel a little (or a lot) off sometimes; it’s not your fitness, it’s the context.

How am I supposed to stay motivated?

I get it. It’s hard to be motivated when the goal posts keep getting moved on you. Personally I’ve found that virtual challenges and races, as artificial as they seem, are surprisingly good motivators. So sign up for a D3 challenge or workout, the USA Triathlon virtual run-bike-run, an IRONMAN Virtual Race or Virtual Club Challenge (there are several every week), or even create a distance challenge among your friends. Any external, short-term goal can be a great motivator!

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