Making progress as an athlete during these unprecedented times is a far from easy task, but then again I’m guessing you didn’t take up sport because you thought it would be easy! This is a challenge with very specific parameters that you need to function within. So now is the time to reset, make your plan and put it into action.
It’s going to take resilience, discipline and some creativity to ensure you get the best out of your training sessions during lockdown, but if you you’re smart about how you do it, you will come out of this period in much better shape relative to your rivals – don’t forget – they’re in the same situation as you!
So, how do you go about it? Well, firstly, it’s crucial to have a clear goal to work towards. Not just your major long term one when the lockdown is over and you are back competing again, but monthly, weekly and daily performance goals. Write down your plan so that you know exactly what your aim is for each session, focus on the detail and have it clear in your head before you start.
Once you’ve made your plan, don’t think too far ahead, take it one session, one day at a time and don’t worry about the factors out of your control.
Training indoors poses some subtly different challenges you should consider to get the most out of each session. First of all, not surprisingly, you’re going to sweat a lot more than you do outdoors. Even with a fan on and all your windows open, it’s going to be a different environment that requires you to be disciplined with your hydration. That means ensuring you’re fully hydrated before you start.
During a high intensity 60 min turbo trainer session, I might go through two 750ml bottles of water with a Go Hydro tab in each. It’s always better to have more than you need close to hand, rather than finding yourself gasping for a drink and having run out – dashing to the kitchen mid-session while wearing cleats isn’t a good idea! And don’t forget; you don’t have the additional weight penalty of carrying extra bottles like you do when you’re outdoors on the bike, so I always err on the side of over-catering.
I’ll have a Go Gel (Salted Strawberry my personal favourite at the moment!) ready for the longer sessions (1 to 1.5hrs) to give me an energy boost, which I’ll take roughly 30 mins into the ride depending on what I’m doing. When I do lactate intervals (the nasty ones that make you feel nauseous) I find all I can take on board are small sips of fluid and I can’t eat any thing solid 90mins prior to the start of the session if I want it to stay down, so I would normally have a double espresso caffeine gel about an hour before to provide energy and a little lift.
Timing is so important with all aspects of your nutrition strategy, and none more so than post- training recovery. I often make up my Rego Rapid shake (currently Chocolate is my go-to flavour, but it alternates frequently) before I start and pop it in the fridge so I can have it as soon as possible to begin the refuelling and repair process immediately. You have a short window of opportunity post-exercise when the body absorbs the nutrients much faster and more efficiently, so take advantage of this by being organised.
After you’ve finished your session, don’t forget to wipe down your bike and turbo trainer, as sweat is incredibly corrosive and will eat away at the metal components in a very short space of time. Give your chain a drop of lube weekly as a pre-emptive measure; there’s nothing more annoying than starting your training to discover an annoying squeak!
Good luck, stay positive and keep pushing forwards!