Training AloneDonovan van Gelder
‘Total Lockdown’, another strange new term that we are all learning in 2020. We thought that the most significant impact for sports people would be the cancellation or postponement of events but now we need to stay indoors and confine ourselves to indoor training and exercises that we can do at home. This is obviously a very small problem compared to what many in the World will face over this troubled time and we need to keep our perspective and realise how blessed we are to have our health and fitness but we want to maintain it at the very least during this necessary shutdown and isolation.
So now we have to do more training on our own. How hard can that be? For some, very. Endurance athletes are creatures of habit. Our training requires it. Routine is essential for a successful cycling or running program. This sudden change to someone’s regular routine can completely derail their training progression, which in turn squashes motivation and it could be a downhill spiral from there.
That is a very bleak way to start this article and it doesn’t need to be that way. Like any speedbump in our training, we should look to put a positive spin on things. There are always opportunities in any forced change and, for the most part, it is how we view and approach things that make it so.
As an introverted, only-child, who has trained for the last 35 years, mostly on his own, I think I am uniquely positioned to give some tips on how to make training on your own, not only doable, but interesting and rewarding.
the best way to take the hesitation and procrastination out of training is to have your training planned and locked in. You don’t have someone to meet or someone to hassle you if you don’t pitch, and it is inevitable that there will be sessions where you think, “who cares if I skip this one?” The problem is that one of those sessions becomes two, and before you know it, you’ve missed a week. So, plan your training and write it down. Put it in your diary and block out the time.
Know the significance of each session
Every session that you do should have value. Intervals and endurance session are fairly obvious, but the easy ones are for active recovery after a hard session, and as a ‘set up’ session before a hard one. Knowing why you are doing a particular session will reduce the temptation to skip it.
Use your device to its maximum
Every session should be conducted using the parameters at your disposal. Most common will be time, pace and heart rate but we also have devices that measure power in both cycling and running. An easy session seems pretty simple, and it is but there should still be heart rate parameters to keep things at the desired intensity. Easy must be easy.
Structure your sessions
In the more intense sessions, know what the desired outcome of the session is and determine the parameters to achieve this. If it is an interval session, decide on the length of the intervals and recovery periods and what level of heart rate, pace or power these need to be conducted at and stick to it. Just as important, the recovery periods need the same attention.
This is probably the most important aspect of training alone. We don’t have others to gauge ourselves against, so we need to set progress goals. The easiest way to do this is to do a regular time trial. The length and nature of this should be specific to your medium and long term goals but it should be repeatable every 3-4 weeks. Again, your device is critical. Measure and record everything you can: heart rate; power; cadence; time and even the weather conditions and your state of recovery beforehand.
The BikeErg has the same flywheel and Performance Monitor as our Concept2 RowErgs and SkiErg, bringing to cycling the strengths and features Concept2 has previously brought to rowing and cross-country skiing.
Often the best way to force our training and form through a plateau is to change the way that we do things. The whole World is hoping that this epidemic is controlled and eradicated quickly so that our lives can return to normal. Sooner or later we will be able to return to our regular training groups. Wouldn’t it be cool to return in better shape and put your training mates into the hurt-box? Isn’t that what all training groups are for anyway?