Athlete Becca Rorabaugh: Covid-19 Training Adaptation Tips
Pandemic pro-tips on how to adapt your training during Covid-19, from Alpina Athlete, US National Champ, and Artist Becca Rorabaugh:
This summer is undoubtedly the strangest season of training I’ve ever experienced. The same pandemic which ended our North American World Cup tour is continuing to require adjustments to our daily lives and training approaches. After thirteen years of skiing for APU in Anchorage, Alaska, this is the first time I’ve been unable to have on-snow camps at agle Glacier or to ride in the van down from the top of uphill workouts. It’s also the longest I’ve been without a weight room, and the longest I’ve gone without scheduled physical therapy. As an extremely fortunate, healthy, and well-supported athlete I don’t have much to complain about: there are plenty of skiers who always train without glaciers or PT. However, adjusting to my new normal has taught me a few things and I’d like to share some tips for making training count during Covid:
1. Stay healthy:
While many people inevitably will catch this novel coronavirus, it’s best to be cautious as an endurance athlete. We have a tendency to run ourselves down during training and become more susceptible to illness, but this isn’t the summer to do it. Stay rested, wear a mask in public places, and wash your hands! Keep in mind that extremely long or extremely hard workouts tend to leave your immune system a little bit suppressed, so if you’re having to work in a crowded office, maybe shorten your OD.
2. No van no problem:
If your training plan usually includes point-to-point or uphill-only workouts, get creative! Carpooling indiscriminately is not a good idea right now, neither is packing into a team van. Lock a bike at the top, choose a single covid-carpool buddy amongst your training group, or find a new route. The APU women’s team has been able to modify our Potter Valley rollerski intervals to finish at the top, and we meet our masked covid-carpool buddy there before practice to shuttle down. It means a lot of cars are driven to the top at 8am, but as the number of Covid-19 cases climbs in Alaska we can help minimize the spread throughout our team if someone gets sick.
3. Be a team player:
If your’re paired with a teammate to carpool, or you’ve assumed the risk of training closely with a small group of people, be extra careful. Do not come to training if you feel at all unwell! Make conscientious decisions to minimize the risk that you expose your teammates to: anyone you hug or drive with has essentially been added to your training group. The risks you assume are passed on to your carpool buddy
and teammates. Sometimes being a team player can mean training alone until you’re sure you’re healthy.
4. Get strong at home:
This is something I’ve been struggling with. Apparently it’s much harder to motivate for modified solo strength than to get after it in the team weight room. This week I learned that drastically switching up my plan helps a lot: I went from doing 4 sets of 5 pull ups to 14 sets of 1, 2. Next I switched to sets of 4 with a medicine ball gripped between my feet. Mixing up the stimulus is helping me gain strength and be excited about what I’m doing, so I can stay focused and make strong movements. If you don’t have weights or a pull up bar, again, get creative! Rocks in a backpack can be good for weighted pull ups or squats, and sand in a kickball ball makes a great med ball/sand bag. For a pull up bar, try mounting a 1” steel pipe to your wall with brackets and wrapping it in athletic tape. Don’t have much equipment to work with? Start with some core exercises and try jumps. Youtube is full of ab workouts if you need inspiration, or put some music on to keep it fun!
The 110lb Med Ball of Death:
- Do body care at home:
Since I’ve paused my usual visits to APU team sponsor Advanced Physical Therapy, I’ve had to really step up my body care regime. When manual therapy doesn’t seem worth it, and when vacations or on-snow camps have been cancelled, our bodies aren’t getting the care or the interruptions that they usually do. When training is the most productive and normal thing I can do with my day during Covid, it’s important that I’m not limited by overuse aches and pains! Since elbows tend to be sore at the beginning of the rollerski season so I made sure to do Thor’s Hammer every evening.
Lower leg issues cropped up during the transition from skiing lots to running lots, so I massaged my calves
with this modified jigsaw (no joke).
Glute, hip, and hip flexor stretches have been a must, as well as some thoracic rotation for my shoulders. I’m also planning to include a mountain bike ride each week so that I don’t run too much and get injured throughout the summer. Without our usual 3 weeks on-snow at Eagle Glacier, I think I’m at risk of compensating by running in the mountains! It’s important to be ready for those mental health workouts
with a healthy body that can handle it.
- Adjust your mindset:
The flexible athlete is going to come out of this pandemic stronger. Focus on process-oriented goals, rather than pinning your hopes on a single race. It’s important to understand that the coming season may look different, and that there are positives to most of the restrictions. If fewer races happen this winter, it’s a chance to increase your volume of on-snow training and come back stronger in 2021. If your training group is not meeting, it’s a chance to get better at training solo. Can’t go to the gym? Make your core the strongest it’s ever been. There are always two ways to look at a situation, so choose to see the opportunities gained rather than the opportunities lost. Focus on what you can do, and don’t beat yourself up for things you’re struggling with. Everyone is struggling with something right now!
It helps me to sometimes take a moment and sketch after a workout, to appreciate my surroundings, and zone in on shapes and forms. Find your own form of mindfulness, whether it’s sketching or the Headspace app, or even cooking or reading. Take care of yourselves out there!
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