Keeping Consistent- Gaining Fitness in Quarantine

Getting out of bed and getting in the miles is not the easiest thing to do on a normal day, let alone during a global pandemic. For me, going from training for the Olympic Rowing Trials to using the rowing machine in my Mom's living room once the trials were canceled was a very jarring shift.

As a friend put it, I was "more prepared than anyone to train in isolation" because I do a bulk of my training alone in the Single Scull. Though I welcome competition, I have always been comfortable training alone. Over time, I've figured out  the essentials to keep fit and motivated without a competitor or teammate next to me every stroke. It all comes down to consistency!

Here are the rules that I apply while training alone, in and out of “shelter in place” times:

1. Pick a time to walk out the door

If you don’t have a coach or training group to meet up with, you don’t have a firm start time that you are obligated to follow. I learned early on in my college career that during winter breaks, if I didn't set a time to start my workout, it was much harder to get the job done. Now, I set my alarm to the same time every weekday morning, and get out the door on a consistent schedule. During "normal" times, I know that if I get out of the door by 6:15, I will be able to get my full volume in (thanks Electobites!), eat breakfast, shower and get to work by 9:30. Though I've pushed everything back by 30' during quarantine,  keeping this routine is much easier to follow than "roll out of bed and maybe I'll work out eventually, but boy, I ate a big lunch, and Joe Exotic just hired a hitman to kill Carole Baskin, so I can’t stop watching Tiger King now”.

2. Plan your workouts ahead of time

I am a big proponent of knowing what you're going to do in advance. This is not to say if you're feeling great, you shouldn't go for a rip (the opposite applies, too), but having a plan for the week makes it much easier to have effective workouts and progressive fitness. Especially during these times, having specific workouts programmed on specific days helps to keep the big picture of periodization and future goals in mind.

3. Have a Repeating Schedule

For most of the year, I have a repeating schedule where I do the same workouts. Before a race it changes to become more specific, but for about 42 weeks out of the year the schedule is the exact same. Sounds boring, doesn't it? Yes and no. No one *wants* to do 10x1k, but I have tons of data on that workout throughout the years. Since you don't have someone next to you to train against, why not train against yourself? Go faster, stay the same speed, but at a lower heart rate- whatever your metric is, try to be better than last time. It's not always going to be a linear progression, but setting targets week by week gives an added motivation.

4. Have a goal in mind

Whether it is a (virtual) race or a fitness test, having a light at the end of the tunnel is one of my biggest assets while training alone. In normal times, I try to have a "check in" every month or so. This could be a race, a test on the rowing machine, or a training camp. When there isn't anything to train for, it certainly doesn't make me feel as motivated as grinding through the 15th mile of a 18 mile row because I know it is going to help shave seconds off my 2000m time. 

I hope that everyone stays safe, fit, and sane during these crazy times. Your season may be canceled, but training isn't!

(And if you need a snack while you're training, stock up on Electrobites!)

-Lenny Futterman 


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