Casey Beaudoin should be training for the Rasputistsa Spring Classic, a bike race at Burke Mountain, Vermont, at the end of the month. The race, like most everything these days, is canceled.

“As we go along here, it becomes more difficult,” Beaudoin said. “My motivation is waning.”

Greg Harwood should be training for the Polar Bear Triathlon, to be held in Brunswick the first Saturday in May. The race, like most everything these days, is canceled.

“Having an event coming up helps keep you motivated,” Harwood said. “You’ve just got to keep it going.”

Sarah Fuller, who is training for triathlons, poses for a portrait on Friday in Winthrop. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Beaudoin, 42, of Fayette, and Harwood, 59, of Winthrop, are two of the many local recreational athletes left training for training’s sake. With gyms and swimming pools closed due to the ongoing coronavirus crises, anyone looking to maintain a workout routine has to get creative.

Samantha Spaulding, 26, of Waterville would normally work out at Planet Fitness. With the gym closed, Spaulding is trying to work out at home every day.

“I try and wake up early and get my workout done rather than just sit around,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding researched online for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts she can do at home. She’d go for runs or hikes, and is getting creative to scratch her workout itch.

“I’m trying to do some yoga. It’s going good,” Spaulding said.

Beaudoin and Harwood are members of central Maine’s close knit triathlon community. Triathlons are grueling by nature, with competitors required to swim, bike and run. Training with a group of friends makes the effort required tolerable. Now, with social distancing rules in effect, training as a group is off the table.

“When you train with a group, you’re always accountable to the others. It’s easier to go through a workout if others are counting on you,” said Sarah Fuller, a 42-year old triathlete and member of Winthrop’s town council.

Added Harwood: “It makes it easier to train when you’re with four to six people. You don’t want to quit becaue you feel like you’re letting the person next to you down. It’s too easy to get off the bike when you’re alone.”

Dr. Rob Stevens, who practices family medicine and sports medicine in Oakland, said having to improvise workouts can help athletes cross train and work muscle groups that otherwise could get ignored.

“It’s one of those times you may get a chance to do stuff you normally wouldn’t do,” Stevens said.

Jim Delorie, 39, trains alone for Spartan races, which feature obstacles of varying difficulties. Delorie has had to change some of his routine, because he can’t use the fitness center at Thomas College, where he works as an Assistant Dean of Student Engagement.

“Lucky for me, it hasn’t changed drastically. I was training a lot outside,” said Delorie, who placed second in his age group at the Spartan World Championship at Squaw Valley, California last September.

A race at Citi Field in New York, home of the New York Mets and the first race of the season’s stadium series, was canceled for the upcoming weekend, Delorie said. He’s not sure if it will rescheduled for the end of the season.

“There’s no events through May 15. None of us really know, but I have a suspicion that will be extended,” Delorie said.

With no competition on the calendar, athletes are working just to maintain fitness levels.

“It makes it hard to know when to go hard and long, and when to back off a little bit. I was building up. Now I don’t know what I’m building up to,” Beaudoin said.

Jake Whitaker, 29, of Augusta, went online to try and solve the problem of losing the social aspect of training, if just a little. A music teacher at Cony High School, Whitaker uses the app Zwift, which allows him connect with other riders on stationary bike trainers during his workout at home. The app allows Whitaker to take part in virtual races.

“(Thursday) morning I did a 10-mile race with people all over the world,” Whitaker said. “Now I’m on the bike at least once a day, sometimes twice a day… You try to connect with people the best you can.”

Swimmers won’t be able to get into lakes and ponds for a while. Harwood added overhead triceps extensions to his workout plan as a way to mimic a swimming stroke, although he acknowledged it’s not the same thing as a long swim.

Spaulding, whose job as a server/bartender at Mainely Brews restaurant is on hold indefinitely, regularly sends messages to her friends to encourage them to keep working out. Like the athletes waiting for news on competitions, there’s one problem that overshadows Spaulding’s workouts.

“The hardest part is trying to stay motivated,” she said.

Moderate exercise can give the immune system a boost, Stevens said. Athletes should use caution not to overdo it, though. Stevens said there are studies of marathon runners that show longer intense workouts can surpress the immune system, leaving one more vulnerable to illness.

“There’s kind of a middle ground, a sweet spot where the benefits (of exercise) are,” Stevens said, “but I would certainly tell anyone to get out and do something. Take a walk or a run.”

The triathletes stay in contact through text messages, calls and social media, and look forward to when they can train together again with races for which to prepare. Fuller is optimistic a race in Millinocket in June will go off. Harwood looks forward to the Mt. Tremblant Ironman in Quebec in August.

“I’m keeping my eye on that prize right now. It’s Aug. 20 or bust,” Harwood said.

A runner heads north on the Kennebec River Rail Trail last Saturday in Farmingdale. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Beaudoin is planning to run a virtual 5K with her daughters, who live in southern Maine and Syracuse, New York.

“I feel so fortunate to live in Maine where I can go out and ride my bike or run,” Beaudoin said. “It’s not New York or Seattle. In Italy, people are running marathons on their balconies.”

To Fuller, adapting to this new reality is a chance to use another aspect of her athletic training, mental toughness.

“We learn from each other and support each other. One of the things about triathlon you learn is how to be adaptable and tenacious,” Fuller said. “A race never goes exactly how you plan. You always need a Plan B, and sometimes a Plan C.”

With social distancing and stay at home orders effective in Maine at least through the end of April, local athletes will continue going down through the alphabet, checking plans off their list.

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