Paul Serra is a 19-year-old professional enduro racer from Redwood City, California. Paul started racing his freshman year of high school and won the Californian Championship twice in his first two years as well as the Sea Otter Classic DH event. He signed his first professional contract at 16 and has been racing at the top level ever since.
Most of our lives have been flipped around these past few weeks. It’s important to take a moment and breathe. Accept that things are and will be different for the foreseeable future and embrace the rollercoaster of emotions that come with unexpected changes. If you’re reading this blog, chances are exercise is a fundamental part of your life, so it’s important that it remains an escape from the stresses of your work environment. Let’s keep training fun and enjoyable! When training home, here are a couple of tips not to miss:
Be realistic with your expectations
It’s hard to retain the training intensity from the gym or biking outside at home, especially if you don’t have any weights and you’ve been on the trainer all winter. For us competitors who were getting ready to race this spring/summer, it’s important to remember that training right now is about fitness maintenance and not setting PRs. We don’t know when we will be competing again; it could be in 2 months, 4 months, or even in 2021.
For the next little while, consistency is key! Set a number of training sessions and intensity levels that you know you can complete for several weeks without burning out. Competitors that come out of this quarantine with consistency, without over- or -under training, will be those who perform the best. Be ok with doing a little less than you normally would and embrace the unknown; train in a way that won’t make you feel burnt out when the time does come to race.
See this as an opportunity
Keeping a positive attitude and perspective makes the biggest difference. Let’s say you are limited to indoor training. Instead of focusing on the fact that you can’t go out, focus on the things you might have been neglecting this whole time. For example, if you know you lack hip or quad mobility, transfer the motivation and dedication you have for training outside into researching exercises to increase your range of motion and putting them into practice.
The motivation and dedication you have for your normal training do not have to only be shifted towards something sport-specific like your mobility, strength, or cardiovascular training. Maybe the biggest area for improvement in your current athletic performance is nutrition. Use this time at home to research sport-specific nutrition, analyze the way you are currently eating, and make some changes if necessary.
Now is also a good time to experiment and test new things you normally wouldn’t risk when going into a race season. For example, my coach (PerformX Training) and I have been experimenting with intermittent fasting for the past couple of weeks: we are trying the 16-8hr ratio. We most likely wouldn’t have tried it with the first round of the Enduro World Series in March, but since we had extra time, we thought it would be a good time to try something new.
Identifying positive components of situations you are in is a tool and something you work toward every day. The small decisions you make add up in the long run and become more natural responses over time. Self-improvement is difficult and requires discipline to recognize and change your reactions.
Remember to keep it fun/crazy! No one is watching
Remember to keep it fun, no one is watching! You’re not in a gym with trainers and peers. You’re not in a yoga class with athletes that have practiced for years and you’re not out on the road with other top-level cyclists eager to beat the peloton. You are by yourself. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone: maybe work on yoga headstands or balancing work. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try strength work on an exercise ball but were a little too scared to try it at the gym. Now is the time!
Now is also a great time to connect with those close to you in a way you maybe haven’t before. Pick a challenge together and hold each other accountable for it. Want to try intermittent fasting? Try it with somebody in your household! If you are living alone, phone or facetime a friend, ask to do it with them and set times during the week to check-in.
Set a schedule, routine, and stick to it
Finally, setting a schedule and sticking to it is very important; especially for those of us that go to an office and keep the house as a separate environment. It’s also important not to fall into the other extreme and try to plan out every minute of your day.
A happy medium is always best: set tasks you have to do at or in a specific time, stick to them, but leave free time in between for family, to cook up a nice dinner, or simply get lost in the marvelous words of your latest book without the pressure of having to move on to your next task.
Setting a consistent wake-up time will help you feel grounded. For example, waking up every morning at 7 am, making your bed, and doing a 10min morning yoga routine will help you begin your day on a powerful, positive note. Remember, sometimes things don’t go to plan and it’s important to be O.K. with that. It’s important to embrace the unexpected; especially in times like these.
This goes back to seeing the positive in every situation and making something out of it. It’s a skill that takes time and that we, as human beings, are constantly working towards. We aren’t perfect, but it’s important to remember that the most important thing is growth. Catch yourself, make mistakes, and grow from them. Enjoy the extra time we have and try new things!
Almost all exercises will require an exercise ball. Focus on the quality of the movement rather than the repetitions. Takes about 15-20min to complete and is a great workout to do before intervals on the trainer or a run.
To follow more of Paul’s adventures check out his Instagram.