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  • Writer's pictureMental Gear Closet

Training during COVID-19

Updated: Jan 20

Brought to you by: Mental Gear Closet

As athletes we are facing some pretty unique and difficult challenges in the wake of COVID-19. Our indoor and even outdoor training spaces are shut down or less accessible, events are being canceled, and we are stuck at home, beginning to feel the mental and emotional toll of it all. On top of the changes to our life or work, man this is a lot to deal with!

Reading other athletes' comments in a recent Facebook post made me realize “Woah, I am much more affected than I thought."

However when sitting down to think on these challenges I noticed several key micro adjustments we can make to change the impact this experience is having on us. (And thank you to the women of EnduranceGIRL for your amazing insights and inspiration!)

The Problem ...

“Training doesn't feel as good to me anymore. I’m just not as motivated to stick with it.”

Let’s take a step back. When you first got started in your sport what was it like? It was most likely fun, made you feel good, or was exciting to see your body learning and excelling at something new. Over time though we start hyper-focusing more and more on aspects like new tech or gear, nuances to our nutrition or creating the perfect training/competing environment as our focus shifts away from progress and feeling to outcome and performance. Therefore when something blocks our ability to perform at our best we may feel angry, frustrated or hopeless.

Times like these force us into a hard-stop gut check and make us touch base with one thing … our "Why".

Why you train. Why you get on the bike or trail. What you love seeing or feeling or experiencing when you do.

As an athlete you’ll never loose that kick ass love of winning and competing nor should you! There is much greatness in that. And yet, we competitive-minded folk can get disconnected from the fact that success and progress aren’t the only elements of our sport that make us feel good.

After all, I may LOVE cheesecake but it’s not my only favorite dessert. Therefore ask yourself, what are other “sweet spots” around why you train? And how might it be helpful to connect with these, at least for now?

The Problem …

“Even if my upcoming event isn't canceled there is NO way I could be ready for it now. What do I do?”

To paraphrase an EnduranceGIRL athlete, “Normal isn’t an option right now” … and that’s ok. One common mistake we make as athletes - which I see most often post injury - is to maintain normal expectations in abnormal times.

Give yourself permission to redefine your expectations and goals. Ask yourself:

“What is reasonable for me right now given __________ conditions / circumstances?”

Then work from there.

The Problem …

“It’s not just my training that feels off. I feel so “blah” and flat in general right now. How do I get out of my funk?”

The “blah’s” are the worst! If you think about it, feeling angry gives you energy. Feeling frustrated gives you motivation. Therefore feeling nothing, apathetic, can really sideswipe us. So what do we do?

First off take a breath with me - a big one. All the way in. All the way out. You are not weak or lazy. You are going through something really difficult and your reaction is totally normal.

Now, define “blah”. The word blah is like “interesting” or “fine”. You may have a general sense of what's implied but being more specific allows you to find a much more direct and tangible solution because you know precisely what you're dealing with.

How? To start, use this prompt:

“I feel _______________ because _______________.”

What do you notice? Can you pinpoint the feeling that lies beneath the blah? Where do you feel it in your body? Look for three things:

1) Activation, butterflies or anxiety

2) Tightness or a stuck sensation

3) A sinking or collapsing feeling.

Next ask yourself, “If that feeling or sensation could talk, what would it say? What would it want or need from me as it's caregiver?”

Then consider, if you were teaching your child or a young relative what to do with these types of feelings what you say to them? And take your own feedback.

This is the point where I must recommend checking in with a sports therapist, counselor or other professional to help cope with or release these feelings in the body. I do so as this is a process most of the world is simply never taught how to do. Even just a few sessions with a counselor can make a big difference.

Either way, checking in with yourself is a great first step and will most likely give you vital information needed to start healing and seeing positive change.

We may be separate, but we’re not alone.

Be well folks.


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