With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world, a lot of our daily routine has been interrupted. Things we take for granted, like the corner eatery or the multiplex and mall are closed since many days, and will remain closed for for the next few days, possibly more. Many of us are working from home. There is a call for a voluntary curfew this coming Sunday from morning 7am till late night.
Runners and triathletes are also affected by this disruption. All swimming pools, gyms and exercise studios are closed. Many marathons in the recent past as well as in upcoming few months have been cancelled.
It is understandable to be upset by all this. But a sense of perspective needs to be kept at this time. In the grand scheme of things, temporary disruption of routine, and cancellation of races do not matter all that much. If you love training itself, then cancellation of races should not have a significant or any meaningful lasting impact on your training journey. There will be other races soon, once we get past this coronavirus obstacle.
In the meantime, what you must do as an athlete is to keep training, while keeping in mind some common-sense things related to health, hygiene and social responsibilities. There is a lot of advise flying around, amplified by social media, and some of it is bordering on outright paranoia and fear-mongering.
Here are some do’s and dont’s which you can follow in such anxiety-ridden times. This is not medical advise, but basic common-sense advise, based on my many years of experience as both an athlete myself and a coach to hundreds of other athletes.
- Do not do group workouts -this one is a no-brainer! With all the advise given my both government and medical professionals about social-distances, you will be well advised to avoid doing workouts in large groups. This is both to protect yourself from infections, as well as to protect others if you yourself carry an infection (though you maybe asymptomatic).
- If you train with a buddy or two, make sure that they do not have recent history of exposure to infected places or persons. Ask them directly! If they are, avoid training with them. Keep a safe distance (6 foot is a good rule of thumb) at all times. And needless to say, avoid sharing water, towels, snacks or anything else anytime before, during or after the workout.
- During your workout, do not drink water from roadside eateries or water-fountains. And do not use unknown cups, bottles or such things to drink water. Use your own water before, during and after your workout.
- Go home immediately after your workout and have a good clean bath with soap before doing anything else.
- Follow any directives issued by the government or other bodies. For example, there is a national call for a voluntary curfew this Sunday from 7am. Follow it – this is not the time to be defiant!
- Drop intensity from your workouts which may compromise your immunity. Now is not the time to burn the roads with intervals! Stick mostly to easy workouts.
- If you experience an onset of illness, sore throat, cough or such symptoms, stop training. Skip the next workout or two, and get well first. In most cases, that hint of illness will go away with proper rest and sleep.
- Coming to the topic of sleep, do not skimp on sleep. Get plenty of sleep! With most of you working from home for the next few days, there can be no excuse to not get enough sleep. Wake up a bit late, and do your workouts a bit late. There is less traffic, the sun is still manageable this time of the year, so you should be fine.
- Keep yourself properly hydrated throughout the day.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to get your daily quota of essential vitamins (Vitamin C anybody?) and other nutrients.
- If you have a history of illness during heavy training phases AND you are currently in a heavy training phase, then consider dialing back your training a bit for the next 1-2 weeks. When considering your training cycle as a whole, a couple of easy/down weeks will not matter all that much.
- Above all, enjoy the workouts, without thinking how each workout will reward you back in some race. In other words, enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
These times will pass sooner or later. Tough times never last, but tough athletes do! Remember, tough times create strong athletes!
– Coach Atul Godbole