Conditioning through CV-19: Control What You Can Control
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
You don’t need to be reminded about the disruption the Covid-19 pandemic has caused since as we are living through it in real-time. The disruption to our “normal” way of life is challenging, hopefully, most of us have found ways to adapt.
The greatest challenge athletes currently face is the uncertainty about their fall season and how they should be preparing from a physical performance perspective. You can only control what you can control. You have no control over your league or conference’s decision to conduct a fall season. However, you completely control your physical preparation and mental approach to the prospective fall season.
Because all HS, club, and college spring seasons were canceled this year, many athletes have become de-conditioned, particularly from a game perspective. Normally, the spring season ends sometime in May. Athletes take a few weeks off to recover/rejuvenate through early June, but resume training and competing during summer league competition. In many states, summer league play will not be permitted until mid-July.
Many of my D1 and D3 athletes are following a program I have used for the past few years. This program has been periodized to get them in top shape by the time they return to campus, which could be as early as the first week of August.
You, too, can follow a similar program. The program is based off of an eight week cycle, three to four days per week.
The emphasis during the first few weeks is to improve the aerobic system, preparing the body for more intense training later in the cycle. As discussed in previous posts, the better the aerobic system, the faster the body can produce the fuel (ATP-CP) to allow the athlete to sprint at a high level of intensity (repeated sprint ability), an important quality in all field sports. A well-developed aerobic system can also help reduce the risk of soft-tissue injuries, such as muscle strains.
The primary method used in week one will be Tempo Runs. This method is favored over the traditional method of long, slow distance. A three to five mile run for non-track athletes might be accomplished at a pace of 8 minutes per mile. Not only is that pace slow, it also does not resemble anything close to the gait of a field sport athlete. Tempo Runs are done at a pace that is equivalent to a sub-five minute 1600 meter run.
The distance of these runs should be between 100 – 110 yds (90 – 100 m). The length of most soccer fields should be sufficient. The initial pace should be in the 18 to 20 sec range. Try to track your heart rate after each run. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, find your carotid artery and count your pulse rate for 10 seconds, beginning at zero. Your heart rate should be below your anaerobic threshold to gain the full benefit of this training method. Each individual’s anaerobic threshold will be different, based on age and fitness. However, for this activity, heart rate should be below 180 or 30 beats per 10 seconds. Ideally, heart rate should be in the 150 to 165 range (25 to 28 beats per 10 sec) for a majority of the runs. The recovery period after each run is the width of the field (60 to 70 yds or 55 to 65 m) done at a slow walking pace, 40 to 60 sec. A heart rate based approach would be more ideal. The recovery rate should be in the range of 120-130 bpm.