STAYING FOCUSED AND MOVING FORWARD DURING UNCERTAIN TIMESBy Elliot Bach
Many uncertainties are present right now amid COVID-19, and many people, athletes just like you, are wondering how to stay motivated and focused during this time. With more races being cancelled or postponed daily, it may seem like there is no reason to stay motivated. While this is a difficult time for many, there are many things that can be done to stay focused. Just because races are getting cancelled or postponed, it does not mean we have to completely forget about goals and why we do what we do. First, it is good to remember that normalcy will return eventually, and that this is a great time to work on some weakness that may be pushed aside during regular training. It is also a great time to remember the value of having an accountability partner. Staying positive, being adaptable, and looking for alternatives, can help us come out on the other side stronger than ever.
The best thing you can do during this time is to work on weaknesses that may have gotten pushed aside during regular season and training. For many, diet is one of those things. How are you doing with this? Is it something with which you continually struggle or find that you lack time to prepare proper meals? This time could be used to learn more about nutrition and how to prepare new things to insure that you are getting the proper nutrients you need as an athlete, so that when you are back to racing you perform even better. In my coaching experience I notice that many athletes get the swim, bike, and run right but easily forgo proper nutrition. Another area may be stretching/injury prevention exercises. This can be a great time to pull up a you-tube video for a new routine, or ask your coach (if you have one) for one that you can follow.
In fact, having a coach or an accountability partner is a great and sometimes essential thing to staying focused and motivated! One of the hardest things when isolated is self-motivation and self-discipline. Accountability keeps one another going, and helps when adjusting training as necessary, such as needing a swimming partner in a lake, as alternatives take the place of regular routines.
While you may not have access to a normal gym or a pool, there are always alternatives and other exercises you can do instead. Besides a lake option, you can use swim cords at home and do short, abbreviated workouts. While these are not as optimal as a lap pool, they are a great way to maintain fitness and to keep from falling behind when pools are re-opened. Maybe you need to adapt your strength training program while your gym is closed. There are several different body weight programs that can be done at home to ensure you keep up a level of strength training. I encourage my athletes to stop what they are doing several times a day and do some sit-ups or push-ups. Instead of becoming stale and stagnant at home, you can add strength exercises, stretches, and other little exercises throughout the day. If you are working from home, try standing at your desk for a few hours instead of sitting, or grab a stability ball instead of your regular chair.
Thinking outside of the box is huge and can be a game changer for you. Despite an imperfect training scenario, this time of being home could actually produce stronger athletes when we are back to normal again. It is possible to use this time to come out of it stronger than ever!