fitness · training

Endurance training tips for life these days: (part 1 of 3)

Hi readers! As part of our continuing coverage of life in these unusual times, we asked our bloggers to comment on their experiences of long-term training and long-term projects. What is it like to be immersed in a process that’s important, for which the outcome is uncertain– in terms of time and what it will be like? How do you manage the discipline, the repetition, the discomfort, the uncertainty?

We’ll be posting their replies this Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2pm. We would love it if you would add your comments and offer your own tips from your training experiences. How are they helping you (or not!) during this time of sheltering and isolating in one place? We’ll post those comments in a separate post next Monday.

Now, onto our bloggers’ stories.

First up: Nicole, on savouring the moments:

One thing that has always helped me with long distance running is trying to savour the moment. That doesn’t mean “enjoy” the moment. Some moments might be challenging, some might be easy, some may be blissful. But when I am struggling during the longer distances I tell myself this may be the best moment of my day. And to savour it.

I think that can translate to the current moment. Savour each moment. Try not to look too far ahead. Honour each moment for what it is. Find gratitude and humbleness. Be sure to stretch and take it easy some times to support the times when bigger pushes are required. The more bigger runs completed provides confidence that one can get through it by savouring and honouring each moment.

Savoring.. by McJames Gulles, on Unsplash. A woman in a beige crew neck t shirt, looking happy. A neon sign saying "planet" is behind her. It's night time.
Savoring.. by McJames Gulles, on Unsplash.

Now to Tracy, on the power in doing small things:

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve read that we are to think of this social distancing and self-isolation that is being required of us as a marathon not a sprint. Since the one marathon I’ve run was pretty much a horrible experience, I feel better when I think about not the event itself, but the training for it.

When I train for an endurance event, the end goal (a marathon, a 30K, an olympic distance triathlon) always seems daunting. But I make it manageable by breaking it down into small, achievable parts. A 10K run here, an hour in the pool there, some hill repeats one day, a short tempo run another. If these are part of a training plan where I build on what has gone before, then I can do it.

I have used the same strategy for writing a book — small and consistent daily effort. I’m working on a book now, and I eased myself into the writing back in January by setting a goal of 15 minutes of writing a day. This physical distancing is 24/7, so it’s not entirely the same, but there is some similarity in the spirit of the approach.

The key, for me, has always been to be realistic about what I can reasonably expect of myself. As in training for a distant goal or completing a huge project, what is required of us in this pandemic is not necessarily going to be fun, even if there are some good moments. I expect that there will be times where I feel I’ve hit my stride, and there will be other times where my feet feel like lead weights. But from past experience I know there will also be a gentle and steady building of strength, where I start to say “I can do this; we can do this.” And we can.

3 small pumpkins, stacked up to create something nice. by Jakob Owens, for Unsplash.
Small things do stack up nicely. by Jakob Owens, for Unsplash.

Last up for today– Mina, on presence and acceptance of where we are (and aren’t):

As I try to keep my head together in this period of extreme uncertainty and disruption, I’m thinking a lot about how to use the consistency and adaptability that’s served me for the endurance events I’ve done can help me now. As much as I love running or any of the other sports I do, there are always days (weeks) when it’s hard to motivate, even when I’m training for something. So I’m trying to remind myself of one-day-at-a-time. Just promise myself to show up for the day at hand.

That’s what this current situation feels like. That’s the consistency part. The adaptability part is reminding myself of all the ways I improvise when I’m training for a long event and then think of these days in the same way. Again, that’s a day to day thing.

For me, if I start theorizing about how long I’ll be living under these conditions, I get overwhelmed. Bite size pieces of time is essential to my capacity to keep my spirits up. Which, again, feels similar to training for a big event. The event is way out there and that can be dispiriting, but the day that’s here is manageable.

All of that said, today I was out for a long cross country ski in knee deep new snow and when I stopped for my peanut butter and tahini sandwich snack I suddenly thought of one of my favourite restaurants and how I couldn’t wait to eat their flatbread again.

A sumptuous offering of flatbread, yogurt, olives, salmon, and other yummy items, with a latte in the middle. By Juliana Malta, for  Unsplash.
A sumptuous offering of flatbread, yogurt, olives, salmon, and other yummy items, with a latte in the middle. By Juliana Malta, for Unsplash.

Dear readers: how are you putting your physical training or other long-haul experiences to work these days? We’d love to hear from you, and will post your comments next week (let us know in the comments if you prefer not, which is fine).

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