I thought a lot about how I wanted to start this because if you are like me, you are fatigued from the constant barrage of fear-inspiring articles on or about Covid-19. So before you shut the browser or start skimming, just know that this is about how Covid-19 has been a positive for me.
I don’t mean to rush through life, but I pack a lot into a day and the weeks seem to fly by. This time of the year, I typically wake up at 5:15am, drink some coffee, and layer up for a 14-mile bike commute to school. I teach all day, coach track and field, and then bike commute home. I might hit the gym before making and eating dinner. Finally, I work on my masters project in bed. I think about stretching, but usually just shut down the computer and fall asleep around 9:45pm. The weekend comes around and I go for big bike rides, moto adventures, or as the race season is just picking up, I might travel to a race. In addition to teaching, finishing a master’s degree, and training/racing bikes, I also recently bought a house and juggle social activities with my boyfriend.
Now that we are a few weeks into Covid-19 shutdowns, my normal life has slowed down. I am still doing all of the above (minus the social activities), but on a different timeline. I can sleep in longer, I flex my time for online/distance teaching and grading, and I train at optimal times in the day. I’ve knocked out some lingering home projects and I have more time to cook. I even started stretching regularly! I realize we all have unique situations, but I think a lot of us can agree that we have more time on our hands. I think this can be positive or negative.
I’m keeping what I can control as a positive. While things like job loss, the economy, and Covid-19 deaths may continue to worsen, I think what has kept me sane and from falling down the path of fear and panic is looking to what I can do to improve my future.
A big part of this has been figuring out my ‘why.’ Someone recently asked me, “Why are you still training? Aren’t all of your races cancelled?” To start, they are not all cancelled. Will I race in a month, this summer, or even fall – no one knows. What I do know is that I always train to be better- be a better athlete, racer, and individual. Racing is a great metric to evaluate training progress, but it is not the only one. I can feel when I am riding strong. I can see a difference in muscle tone, energy levels, and skill level on the bike. Even if I do not race until 2021, I am still training. I will always train because living with a lack of improvement is not who I am.
Working with my coach and having a plan has been crucial to my ability to stay mentally strong and in the training game. We acknowledged that races will be canceled or pushed to a later date and this is important for setting expectations and not feeling disappointed. Training for me does not look like it would normally for this time of the year. My coach and I have decided to back off intensity. This helps not compromise immune strength and also puts the focus back on base building. The structure is similar to winter training. I have flexibility in my “long endurance” zone activities. I enjoy trail running, dirt biking, and skiing. The variety keeps training fun and also keeps overuse injuries down.
Training also keeps me in a routine. It is easy to fall into the trap of sleeping in late, binge watching Netflix, and snacking all day. Training gives me structure to my day and keeps a sense of normalcy to my life. I usually make to-do lists and I have found these to be very important during this time. When your schedule is packed, it is easy to not let distractions pop up.
However, I think with being stuck at home, we can all claim guilt to scrolling Instagram or TikTok for way too long. I start my day with my list and check off each item as I go. One or two workouts a day help keep me from procrastinating doing the items on the list, as well as boredom snacking!
My list of to-do’s includes things like:
- Make a healthy breakfast
- Check Google Classroom, respond to students
- Create new assignments for students
- Create a check in video or set up a Google Meet with students
- Trainer workout or mountain bike ride near house
- Call Mom and Dad, or call a close friend to see how they are
- Stretch or use that new yoga app I downloaded
- Clean up backyard
- Do a home gym workout – write it out beforehand and enter the garage with a purpose!
- Clean up/fix bikes
- Organize closet, wash and donate clothes I do not need
- Find a recipe to inspire cooking something new
- Map out a new bike loop on Strava
The list keeps going, but I think you get the gist. I do not want to throw in the towel on moving forward with life. I hope that everyone does not either. It is easy to feel trapped with fear and give up hope on what you were working towards, but I think we can all come out stronger if you stick to what is important to you. Whether that is racing bikes or something else, figure out what you are able to do, make a goal, and stick to it – even if the goal isn’t measured in the same way it previously was!