“I want to get back into (insert any endurance sport here), I just don’t know where to start!” “There’s a 140.6 that’s still happening in my state. I know I haven’t trained for it, but I’m going to do it anyway!”
I hear these (and many more comments) every day when I ask various people how their training is looking. Unfortunately, some individuals will start training when stay-at-home orders lift, and they will either burn out or develop an injury from too much training too quickly.
Below are six steps to re-start your training in the safest and most effective way possible.
1. Start Slow - This is a common warning about getting back into any exercise. There’s a reason it's so common - it's true!
Starting “slow” lets you accurately assess your current fitness level, where you can increase, and the best way to safely push yourself without having too many muscle soreness repercussions (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
2. Don’t Get Mad at Yourself For Not Being Where You Were - The whole endurance world has been rocked over the past few months. Almost everyone has had to completely rethink their training and racing schedules. Don’t worry. You are not alone. You will get your prior fitness level back quicker than you think.
3. Recognize Areas of Weakness and Work Specifically On Those Areas - Often, when faced with times of stress, athletes tend to take a break from or step down from their least favorite training discipline (either subconsciously or on purpose).
Have a discussion with your coach about how to adjust your training plan to accommodate these areas without cutting too much cross-training.
4. Set A Goal - Races may still be a little too far away and unsure for some athletes to commit to, but that doesn’t mean they can’t set a goal to reach. There are many virtual races online and other options.
I know one athlete that trained for and ran her own marathon. Another athlete made a goal to run a certain distance pain-free. I know still another athlete that took a straight, even section of road near his house and races 12.4 miles every week. Who is his competition? His last time.
Whatever you decide to do, even if it's self-created, set a goal and work towards it!
5. Create A Back-Up Plan - Just as important as setting a goal is having a backup plan in case that goal falls through.
The human emotional response to a canceled race can be severe. Being aware of this emotional response and having a backup plan can make it easier to deal with canceled or altered plans and goals.
6. Be Accountable To Someone - In this time when emotions are high, it’s helpful to have an educated and knowledgeable third party to discuss training strategies and roadblocks with; an objective outsider, if you will. Ideally, this would be a coach who could also adjust your training goals/ schedule to meet your particular needs.
Remembering these six points when ramping up your training will help keep your focus and help you avoid injuries. What considerations do you take into ramping up your training?