Training for the Unknown
Tips for what to do when you don’t know what to do:
As runners, we love our routines — they provide a source of consistency and stability for navigating through a busy life. The same concept holds true on the macro scale. Progressing through iterations of training cycles, races, and down time allows us the satisfaction of setting goals, working toward them, achieving them, and then starting the cycle over again.
Enter 2020 — the year that seems destined to simultaneously throw a wrench into everyone’s plans all over the world. Many runners who were training for a spring marathon or track season have already had to adjust their plans — some calling an abrupt end to their school careers and others starting training cycles over to retarget their now postponed race.
As summer quickly approaches, conversations about whether or not the remainder of the 2020 racing season will also be canceled now seem to carry significantly more weight.
With all of this uncertainty, what is the competitive runner supposed to do? How are we supposed to approach training when we don’t even know what we’re training for?
If you ask ten people this question, you’re certain to get ten different opinions. Well, for the sake of simplicity, we’re choosing to forgo those other eight opinionated people and share our thoughts on the situation. Please enjoy David and Rosa’s hot takes on training for the unknown.
- Take time to reset/recover, both physically and mentally.— It’s not very often that we’re presented with the opportunity to really take advantage of a full system reset, other than post-season. Even then, far too often we can be guilty of rushing back into training too early or too quickly because the next race is only x weeks away and we’re scared to lose fitness. Right now, with the possibility of no races on the calendar in the (near) future, it’s a perfect time to evaluate how your body and mind are both feeling and give them the needed time off. Ultimately the primary driver of improvement in distance running is consistency — sticking to your training plan and staying healthy. With the amount of stress carried by a full training season, it makes sense for athletes to give themselves the needed physical and mental reset time in order to be able to start up their next cycle 100% healthy and motivated.
- Remember why you run.— For runners with years of experience under their belt, it can be easy to start going through the motions just because it’s what you do. We recommend that everyone, both experienced and newer runners take time to reconnect with the sport in a truly organic manner and remember what it is about running that you love. Maybe it’s your daily meditation time, maybe it’s your social activity, maybe it’s purely your preferred form of exercise; regardless of your motivation, make an effort to actively get back in touch with your reason for running — your future self will thank you.
- Have fun with it.— This is also a great time to just have fun and explore the parts of running that you normally might avoid when in the midst of a training cycle. Try out something new like trail running, virtual running events, or even a potentially regrettable running challenge. [As a quick disclaimer…we recommend running any ridiculous or potentially regrettable ideas by your coach first.] Overall, just have fun with it!
- Remember fitness comes from training, not from racing.— This point is as simple as it sounds, but is often forgotten (or ignored) by runners. Just because your goal race has been or might be canceled doesn’t mean you can’t gain fitness. While having races on the calendar can serve as excellent motivation to train hard, the fitness ultimately comes from the process, not the end result itself. Time trials are a great alternative option. While this option may not be as exciting as races, time trials can serve an equally beneficial purpose, providing something to focus your mental energy on. However, with or without a time trial, the hard work and consistency put in during your training cycle will still enhance your fitness and be rewarded on your next race day, whenever that may be!