Covid is going to be a long ride…

Howdy folks,

As many of you know, I live in the Seattle area. We’re currently in the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic as it begins to make its way across the United States. My wife is a nurse, and as I write this she is in downtown Seattle working as part of an outreach effort to provide services to infected (and potentially infected) members of the homeless community.

It’s a pretty scary time for our family, and for our area. Current projections indicate that the path this disease is taking locally are very much analogous to the path that it took in the hardest-hit parts of Italy, and that we can expect to be in a state of affairs similar to where Italy is now within a couple of weeks.

That’s… not great news. A few minutes on Google will show you what things look like there, and it doesn’t take too much imagination to conjure up what that would/will be like here.

It probably goes without saying that all of this is pretty darn stressful, and as my personal stress level continues to rise, I find myself more than ever seeking solace on – you guessed it – my bike.
For me, my daily training is the therapy, the meditation time that makes it possible for me to get through things like this. I’m guessing you might just be wired the same way.

As a cycling coach – hey, maybe as YOUR cycling coach! – I’m probably not the person you would or should look to for advice in response to a pandemic. I can, however, talk to you about the effect this has on  your training, and offer some recommendations.

The first and most important thing I would like to offer to you is that we all need to take seriously the concept of Social Distancing. Avoid, as much as possible, coming into contact with people who are not in your immediate family group.
While current recommendations from the Federal Government suggest avoiding “large” groups of people, what we know from the transmission rates of this disease in other countries is that the areas that have had the most success in limiting it’s spread have worked to eliminate *all* unnecessary contact. If you don’t have to be near someone else, you should stay away from them. Take this to heart, and take it as far as you can. The best course of action is to limit your personal contact to people in your immediate family only, in as much as is possible.

There has been much written on this topic in recent days, and there isn’t much I can add to it. Just please try to remember that the only way we can avoid the worst possible set of outcomes in this crisis is through this process of Social Distancing.  As of now, there is no cure, there is no vaccine, there is no herd immunity, there is only us, and the choices we make.

In terms of your training, that recommendation manifests in a couple of ways…

  • Don’t go to any races for a while.

There isn’t much choice about this right now; they’re all cancelled or postponed.

  • Don’t go to the gym.

If you want to do some resistance training, there are a large variety of bodyweight exercises that you can do at home, and I – or any of the other SE coaches – would be more than happy to help you with programming a routine.

  • Don’t go on group rides.

Yeah, I know. This one stings a bit. Social Distancing means avoiding all unnecessary contact with people outside our immediate family group, and while it may seem to us like that weekly group ride is pretty damn necessary, in the context of a global pandemic? It can maybe go on pause for a while. Ride by yourself, or with family members. If you don’t share a house with someone, don’t ride with them.

If you really find yourself yearning for the social and/or competitive aspect of that group ride experience, this may be the time to finally check out that “Zwift” thing everyone has been talking about. Honestly, most people find it to be a pretty great experience.

So, that’s the Social Distancing component. What other advice can I offer as a coach?

  • Maybe take things down a notch.

Even in an absolute best-case scenario, the Covid-19 pandemic is going to have a significant impact on the infrastructure and capacity of your local medical providers. You really don’t want to find yourself needing to visit the hospital in the middle of a crisis like this, and there may not even be an ambulance (or hospital care itself!) available for you if you need it for something that isn’t immediately life threatening. Think about this before you go for a ride, and maybe stay off that barely-rideable backcountry singletrack trail you’ve been thinking you might hit on your gravel bike. Maybe take the bike path instead of that 5-minute faster route you always almost get doored on.

Speaking of “taking things down a notch”…

It’s probably not a great idea to beat the heck out of your immune system when the wave of a global pandemic is about to crest over the country. Training/riding has positive benefits in terms of immune function, but you are going to want to keep your training – and life! – stress level below the point it begins to make you more susceptible to opportunistic infections. Frankly, this is a pretty good time to have a coach keeping an eye out for you. I’m going to be paying extra close attention to all the little clues that tell me when an athlete is starting to get run a little bit ragged, and I will err on the side of caution to clamp down on intensity and work load when those clues start to appear. It wouldn’t hurt to be extra diligent in writing down subjective feedback on your training log, just to make sure that kind of stuff gets factored in to your training. Plus, who knows? Maybe your training log will be the basis for your future novel, “Training in the time of Cholera”, something like that…

One last thing…

I know riding is going to help me get through this, and If you’re reading this it probably will you as well. Even as we consciously create physical distance between us, the community that we have built and are part of remains, and will remain. Please drop me a line anytime, for any reason.

Oh… and wash your hands! A lot!






~ by crosssports on March 16, 2020.

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