This has been an insane, unusual, and stressful time for all of us. With loss of our normal routines, relationships, and reasons to exercise, many people in the ultimate frisbee community are struggling not only with figuring out what to do, but how to get motivated to do anything at all.
Let’s start with one simple statement: It’s 100% OK if you have had a significant change in your training routine lately - including a complete stop. Our bodies and minds are processing so much, and training may need to take a backburner to your wellness, stress, life demands, and mental health. For players who go straight from season to season, the last few weeks have been an opportunity to cultivate rest and stillness that you might not have been able to access in years.
Getting back into an exercise routine can have hugely positive effects on your physical and emotional wellbeing and reduce the risk of future injury. When you are ready to start again, here are some helpful tips on getting yourself organized and moving again!
Some days you might just not be feeling it. If you’re having trouble with motivation and energy, start by doing whatever kind of movement feels easiest and most accessible to you. This might be taking a short walk, playing with your pets or kids, cleaning something, or gentle stretching.
On a day with a little more energy, use cues to incorporate basic movements (squat, lunge, push, pull) throughout your day. For example, balancing on one leg while you brush your teeth, or doing 10 squats every time you enter a room. Relate the cues to activities that you are already doing.
As you start to establish a movement routine, you’ll feel more motivated and ready to get into actual workouts. Pick whatever feels the most fun right now - dance workouts, yoga, youtube videos, live zoom classes or workout videos you have laying around. The goal at this point is to get your heart rate up and make some endorphins!
When motivation is high, seek out ultimate specific workouts! You’ve spent years working hard for your gains and want to do a little extra to keep them. Look for a well rounded program such as UAP - Strength and Conditioning that includes at-home strength, conditioning, speed, and agility. If you have an ultimate player quarantine buddy, this is a great time to spend tuning up your throws and smoothing out any issues or changes you want to make. Check with local club teams as well to see what workouts they are doing! You can also use UAP - Skills and Techniques as a source for drills you can do by yourself or with a partner.
Abrupt changes in training load are often associated with increased injury risk. If you haven’t been able to exercise much lately, be aware when you go to workout that you probably will need to lower your training load. This might mean starting with fewer days per week, shorter duration of workouts, or less intensity. Meet your body where it is today.
Inactivity affects our body in many ways. Most athletes are aware of “use it or lose it” and the loss of muscle strength/hypertrophy during periods of inactivity. Our tendons will show reduction in cellular activity and decreased stiffness. In some cases, we can even see loss of bone density (especially in female athletes). And if you’ve ever had to take a break due to an injury, you’re well aware of how quickly you can lose your endurance/conditioning!
Everyone copes differently, and some may find themselves suddenly overtraining in order to help themselves manage anxiety, depression, or boredom. Many of us have a reduced training capacity right now due to higher stress levels, so it can be easier to find yourself in this category than usual. If you find yourself struggling with new aches and pains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or flare ups of old injuries, consider if your training program needs more varied activities or more recovery time. Remember that recovery is where gains are actually made!
The most important benefit of getting into an exercise routine might not be the immune system boost, the endorphins, or the physical adaptations - it might just be the community itself. In a time where we aren’t seeing each other face to face, finding connection is both more difficult and more important than ever!
Remember what Adriana Withers told us: “You can't cancel ultimate. We are more than a season or a tournament; we are a community, and we are still here.”
Take some time to engage with your local ultimate community - leave a comment, join a workout, get in touch with an old friend or teammate. Check out UAP’s Social Distancing Club on Facebook! Find that connection we have all been missing. I promise it’ll be easier to get through this if we do it together.