ATC 308: Coronavirus Adjustments–‘Safe’ Exercise Guidelines, Adapting To Your New Race Season, and Mentally Managing Abrupt Changes

March 27, 2020


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The April 18th MAF meetup is cancelled for now.

Article discussion:

The right kind of exercise to help boost your immune system

  • The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system.
    • This one is super in-depth!
    • Upper-respiratory infections increased when no exercise was present.
    • Hard exercise (marathon distance) also increased likelihood of infection.
    • Moderate exercise decreased risk of infection.
    • Low calorie diets also increase your risk of getting sick.
    • Volume and intensity can diminish your immune system when you go outside what you’re adapted to.
    • Tawnee’s takeaway: stick to MAF right now. With races cancelled, now’s not the time to try to set PRs or crush your workouts. Just focus on comfortably and safely building your base.
    • Lucho’s takeaway: pay attention to your mental health. Don’t do any workout that feels like a mental stress.
  • You Can’t Boost Your Immune System But You Can Sure Suppress It by Steve Magness
    • This one is simpler, more practical, and somewhat intuitive.
  • Karvonen Formula

Marco W. asks:

Cancelled Spring Marathon Because of COVID-19, What To Do?

How would you handle the training if you cannot run any spring marathon because of covid-19 and instead aim at running in the falls? End the current cycle and start a new one? Transition smoothly between both? I just don’t wanna lose what I’ve been gaining for this training cycle.

Best regards from Belgium,

PS: I wish you to remain strong and healthy. That’s what matters most!

What the Coaches say:

  • You’re going to lose your marathon-specific fitness that you have right now, and that’s a good thing. You have 30 weeks to regain that fitness, which is great. Pullout now and have a rest block. This doesn’t mean laying on the couch. Recoup as necessary (1-5 days). Then jog easy every other day about 5K for a week. After that, you want to maintain your basic aerobic fitness by reducing your fitness to 50% for the next month.
  • We all need to have this new reality about what we should be doing right now. We should not be trying to maintain peak fitness.
  • Look at this unexpected period as a gift to rest and recover so we can come back stronger in the fall.

Scott asks:

What Now?

Dear Coaches,

They canceled my event due to the Coronavirus. I have been training for this marathon since mid December. I have followed my training plan to the letter. I hit all of my key workouts: long runs, intervals, hill repeats and tempo runs. I was ready to crush it. The event is not giving refunds but if we finish the race they will send us our finishers T-shirt. I wanted to try and compete for a podium finish.

Question: Do I do the virtual race? I really thrive on the energy of having hundreds of others around me to push me along.

It’s hard to say if there will be another opportunity anytime soon but how do you motivate yourself to do a 26.2 mile virtual race? And if you don’t do the same course as others then how can you say that you really made the podium or gauge how you have done in comparison to others.

I agree to the caution that society is taking in light of the health concerns but I really just wanted to voice my frustrations. Sorry if I sound superficial.

Kindest Regards,


What the Coaches say:

  • What situation are you in in terms of family? Don’t put others at risk by pushing yourself, possibly getting sick, and passing that on to loved ones.
    • Instead of going for the podium, consider just finishing the race as easily as possible.
  • If you don’t feel like you’re putting yourself or others at risk, then go for it!

Amy asks:

How to mentally deal?

I’ll admit, my sport (triathlon) is a big part of my identity, for better or for worse. And now this spring (possibly even this year) it seems to be looking like no racing will happen. I’m already going a little crazy and feel lost, and it’s adding stress which I know isn’t good. How do I revise my training is one question (I focus on Olys and 70.3s), but I’m also curious to hear the coaches’ thoughts on how to mentally deal with all these abrupt changes due to the coronavirus. I think we’re all feeling a bit lost and isolated right now. PS – I don’t want to sound like a selfish jerk, as I know there are worse problems in the world right now, but I’m just being honest.

What the Coaches say:

  • The races will still be there when this is all over. Have faith that you’ll get back to your normal.
  • Your identity hasn’t changed just because your races have been temporarily moved. You’re not quitting. You are still a triathlete whether or not you have a race on the books. You choose to be a triathlete.
  • Find comfort by virtually connecting with other people in the same boat. Consider Zwift for the treadmill or bike and still count yourself as part of the triathlon community.
  • Start looking ahead to what you can do in the future.
  • Use this time to explore other aspects of your identity. Not that it’s bad for your entire identity to be wrapped up in triathlon. But if there are other important elements in your life, figure out how to develop those more.

One Comment

  • Kumodog says:

    Great podcast Tawnee and Lucho. All good points, and I loved Tawnee's comment about the gift of time. A great idea as we are all under lockdown would be your favorite or most recommended training books.

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