You cant swim, you are only allowed one form of ‘locally based’ exercise outside per day, you are accustomed to more… This was the situation faced by the whole of the UK and the rest of the world.
Thankfully restrictions are starting to ease. Especially when it comes to exercise, lakes are opening again and a semblance of normal training service has resumed. However, what can we learn from these 2 months of confinement? What positives if any, were there?
After a few weeks of easier training. Not wanting to leave the immune system vulnerable I came to a couple of decisions. I was going to have the year off racing. I was going to use this time to get better on the bike. The two main factors pushing this decision was my two ‘A’ races for the season being cancelled. Plus the limitations of training outside.
With the blessing of my coach Tim we then set about improving my engine. We use Training Peaks written sessions dropped into the online platform Zwift for most of the sessions. With the occasional ride outside to maintain some sanity. Also, the option to compete in Zwift races on a weekly basis really helps with motivation. If you want a really hard threshold session to be executed to the max do it in a race. Without a doubt, you will go deeper and harder than following a session plan. The caveat with this is racing must be used sparingly. Your legs are toast afterwards and you are substantially more fatigued than normal.
Starting this bike-specific program in early April my FTP (Functional Threshold Power the maximum amount of power you can sustain for 1 hour, the ‘gold standard’ measurement for most amateur riders). Went from 250 watts to 276 watts. This may not seem a lot. However even at my absolute peak after a summer’s worth of training and racing I have only hit 265 watts. To give some perspective I weigh 67kgs.
How has this been possible? Dropping swimming (not that i could have done it anyway). Reducing my running and adding in more cycling with extra at-home strength work. What is also most surprising is that my running has not suffered. My cycling power is at an all-time high and my running is ticking along nicely!
Sometimes we need to block out our egos when facing the prospect of losing ‘fitness/Strava kudos’ in one discipline while focusing on another. I have no doubt that when I finally get back in the pool my lap times initially will be disastrous. But… it will come back and meanwhile, cycling/the focus is at a new level. Muscle memory is for life, so it should be that much easier to get to that level in the future.
This Corona lock-down period is a unique (hopefully) time in our lives. It has served to remind us that there are always opportunities to seek out. Have a think about changing up your training when you next go into the ‘off-season’. Focus on one specific discipline. Do not worry about the others dropping off. The gains you make should stick with you. Any drop in performance on the other disciplines will come back quickly enough.