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Adjusting Your Training Around the Corona Virus

The Coronavirus is either going to be the best thing that ever happened to your 2020 race season or the worst. There’s no middle ground. Let me explain.

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about Evan Landez and how his Ironman training been temporarily derailed. That’s a story familiar to many athletes during this crazy time in human history. The question is- how will you use this time?

Here at Paragon Training, we’re trying to use it to continue bringing our athletes together via online content, Zwift meet-ups and races, and virtual relays.

We also committed to raising money for the World Health Organization (WHO) via our training plans and virtual Strava challenge.

We’d love to have you join us in these initiatives, but I also wanted to provide some practical suggestions for athletes that may be staring at their race-specific training plan and ready to chuck it out the virtual window (trash folder).

In my opinion, there are two main approaches you can take in your training during these next 6-8 weeks. Some athletes may need a combo of the two approaches, but I think most athletes—whether they were training for an Ironman, a marathon, or a 5k PR—will be able to pick out which lot they fall into and make adjustments to their training accordingly.

Corona Training Adaptation #1

The first approach an athlete can take is to re-visit higher volume, low intensity, aerobic training and continue improving their base. There is plenty of time, as I don't think we will be racing until June at the earliest, and probably much later than that. Many athletes will be racing multiple times late into 2020 and may be even circling some key events into early 2021. What do you need if you plan on racing often over the span of many months? You need a base. A big one. A deep one. There’s no such thing as too much base.

You might need more base if you...

  • Are an athlete who finds yourself with MORE time on your hands due to no commute or fewer responsibilities at work.

  • Are someone who lives in rural areas where you can still train outside. Alone. AWAY FROM PEOPLE.

  • Are an athlete who did not have a good base and foundation building season over the winter. This could be due to injury, resting from late 2019 races, work, family, or just plain laziness.

  • Don't have kids.

What should this sort of training look like? Well, it should be mostly low intensity. First, focus on increasing your frequency of training, then focus on extending the duration of SOME sessions, not all of them. Keep the intensity very low at 85% of threshold heart rate or less. It might be ok to throw in a couple of hard efforts here or there, but keep them very short and infrequent.

Example Base Phase Training Sessions:

  • Extend one of your normal mid-week training sessions by 30-50%. That might mean riding 2-3 hours instead of 90 minutes or running 8 miles instead of 5. It's not technically your "long" workout for the week, but it is adding some easy volume.

  • Add in additional sessions you don't normally do. It might be a cross-training routine, some more core work, at-home strength, yoga, or mobility.

  • Do a double run or double ride day where you take what would be a very long training session and split it in half. Instead of running a straight 10 miler, consider running 6 miles in the morning and 4 miles in the afternoon. You'll have time to recover between sessions and your form should be better for both of them.

  • Ride or run a bit longer on the weekend.

  • Spend more time RECOVERING.

Corona Training Adaptation #2

The second approach an athlete can take is almost the complete opposite. Take a step AWAY from volume and focus on shorter, high-intensity training sessions. Why do this? Well, mostly because riding the trainer for more than three hours repeatedly during the week will make you insane. Re-visiting some VERY top-end speed and power can be super beneficial if you don’t touch that energy system very often. Strength IS speed and there’s no better sport-specific strength than running uphill or mashing big gears on the bike. It's important to remember that adding some intensity doesn't mean NO low intensity. Aerobic work should still take up the majority of your training volume, it's just that the focus may shift to adding one or two high-intensity session per week.

You might need to and SUFFER FASTER if you...

  • Are an athlete who was prepping for an early-season marathon or Ironman and had already been doing a lot of volume.

  • Someone who lives in an urban area where it’s hard to ride and run outside and respect social distancing

  • Are trying to simultaneously juggle work, kids, a crazy spouse, AND training. (I find there are many in this category right now).

The key here is to keep an eye on your total stress load. My coach, Kurt Perham, calls it the “stress bucket.” Most of these athletes are already going to be VERY fit and have been doing a lot of long, “grindy” sets to get them ready for a race. You might need a bit of a mental break from having to focus during long training sessions. A little serotonin and dopamine hit from training will keep your mood up, but you don’t need another 15-mile tempo run, this time on the treadmill. No thanks.

Example high-intensity training sessions:

  • Short VO2max power workouts on the bike. I prefer shorter versus longer right now, since we’re not trying to create a ton more stress for the athlete. Intervals that are 30-90 seconds in duration at 100-115% of your FTP power should do the trick.

  • You CAN incorporate some longer intervals at the same power if you find yourself still super motivated to train.

  • Low-cadence strength work is good. Blocks of 1, 3, 5, and 8 minutes are an excellent way to incorporate some low-cadence ramp efforts.

  • Runners can do hill sprints. All day. Do short hill sprints. Long hill sprints. You can bound up them. Just run up hills. You’ll get strong and feel good.

  • Just like the base people, don’t neglect some simple core and mobility work! I attached a simple (and quick), pre-workout activation video I do before most of my runs.

The long and the short of it is that you don’t have to let this time go to waste. Use it as an opportunity to work on a weakness, build a bigger base, or bump up your max 1 minute and 5 minute power on the bike. Your neurological system will thank you in the long run.

Below, we've gathered a few resources to pass on that I hope might help you stay on track.


Dryland Swimming

Training Plans

Pre-Workout Activation Routine

Check out our ONLINE TRAINING PLANS to take your performance to the next level


Texas Triathlon Club - Triathlon Training - Triathlon Coach


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