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An Athlete’s Guide to Coping with COVID-19

By Sofia Marin | In General | on March 25, 2020

The past few weeks have been overwhelming for many of us. With a global pandemic turning the world upside down, many people are struggling to find their footing. If you’re an athlete, you are likely feeling the effects of the disruption to your routine and feeling a bit stir crazy, anxious, depressed, you name it.

But as active people, many of us are looking for ways to continue training and exercising during the self-isolation period in order to stay both healthy and fit. Here are our tips and tools to help athletes cope with the effects of COVID-19.

1) Keep a Routine

Establish a daily schedule and stick to it. Include regularly set times for exercise, work, meal times, socializing, cleaning and recreational time. The schedule will help keep you accountable, motivated and provide you with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

2) Set Process-Based Fitness Goals

With cycling events, group rides and races cancelled for the foreseeable future, it’s important to reset your goals. Think about creating specific process-oriented goals rather than event-based goals. For example, I want to: Lift my threshold by 5% in 3 months; Improve aerobic endurance building up to 3 hours continuous riding without a drop in power; Improve body composition and nutrition habits. You may also need to step back from specific training and instead focus on regular exercising in order to balance new demands like working from home and caring for children. 

3) Make friends with your trainer

As cyclists, we are really fortunate that we can actually participate in our sport indoors. Invest in an indoor trainer if you don’t already have one. Not only can you get a high-quality workout in less time, but you’ll be able to maintain fitness without risking going outdoors. Pro tip: Mix it up by alternating 30 minutes on a trainer and rollers.

4) Create an Inviting Home-exercise Space 

Achieve athlete Rafael Garcia’s decked-out home gym setup

Dedicate a part of your home for working out. Set up with a trainer, fan, yoga mat, exercise equipment, TV, computer, towels, etc. If you have to exercise indoors, you might as well make the space as inviting and comfortable as possible. You’ll want to create minimal barriers to exercising.

5) Join Zwift

A community-based cycling app like Zwift can transform a mundane indoor trainer session into a fun and dynamic social ride. There are dozens of live group rides and events happening daily. Coordinate with friends and teammates to create virtual group rides. You’ll want a smart trainer to get the most out of Zwift. 

6) Ride with the Pros

Lots of pro cycling teams are organizing group rides on Zwift. Join the pros and thousands of other riders for a fun group ride! Teams like Team Twenty20 women’s team and WorldTour Team Mitchelton-Scott are both running regular group events on Zwift. 

7) Don’t Dig Any Holes

When it comes to gaining fitness, overreaching is an important element to stimulating adaptations in the body. That said, it’s important to avoid digging any deep holes right now as this can compromise your immune system. Listen to your body and take your rest days seriously to avoid compromising immunity.

8) Try to have fun

You might need more “ride just for fun” days or unstructured workouts to stay motivated. Incorporate various styles of workouts on and off the bike to keep enthusiasm up.

9) Join Virtual Strength & Yoga Classes

Take the opportunity to work on full-body balance and strength by taking advantage of the thousands of free virtual fitness classes. Put it in your schedule and commit to joining in group exercise 2-3 times per week.

10) Work on your Weaknesses

Are there areas of your fitness or wellness you’ve been neglecting? Spend time working on foam rolling, stretching, stability work, core strength, or PT exercises.


Basic Tips for Staying Healthy:

  • Limit contact with others unless absolutely essential.
  • Practice excellent hygiene: thoroughly wash hands, keep nails trim, wash face, and brush teeth and/or rinse with antiseptic mouthwash regularly. 
  • Stay hydrated. Ensure your mouth, nose and throat are moist and never get dry. Liquids will wash any COVID-19 virus down into the stomach where the stomach acid will kill the virus. Keeping moisture in nasal passages will help deter attachment of viruses to nasal cilia.
  • Eat balanced healthy meals. Think “eat the rainbow” with a variety of fruits and vegetables. 
  • Avoid large calorie deficits or major carbohydrate restriction
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking anything
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Meditate or practice deep breathing
  • Stay up to date with CDC and WHO guidelines

Media Cleanse

Take dedicated time to disconnect from media and reading the news daily.

Turn your energy toward helping others 

Many of our neighbors, friends and family are at risk with the pandemic. You may feel helpless, but here are 10 ways to help others and yourself.

Managing the Uncertainty

We all have a lot of uncertainty to deal with around Covid-19 and the impact on our health, our communities and our cycling season. Being worried or anxious about these issues is normal. It is important to talk through these worries and feelings. Talk to friends and family. Talk to each other. Talk with your coach. Talk with a therapist or psychologist. We need to stick together and act in the best interest of our community at large. 

One Comment to "An Athlete’s Guide to Coping with COVID-19"

  • Michelle Nightengale says:

    March 25, 2020 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Thanks Sofi, Great article.

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