Although the current situation is new to me too, I have spent most of my time as a fighter training alone. When I started fighting, the number of fighters in the shire and nearby was very small, and although our numbers have increased since, we don't have any knights or other senior fighters focused on armoured combat on the island. I've had plenty of time to get used to the idea of solo training, so hopefully some of my experiences can be of use to others.
Before anything else, you need to take stock of two things:
Thing 1: What do you want to achieve? (Particularly assuming that our current quarantined existence is temporary)
- Option A: You are simply fighting for fun and are not too worried about the break, you'll poke your gear now and then and do some self maintenance, but mostly you'll be bingeing on Netflix. This is cool too.
- Option B: You want to maintain your level of fighting and fitness.
- Option C: You want to still improve your level, no matter what the circumstances. Yes, this is absolutely possible.
Thing 2: How much time do you have available? Do a realistic assessment of your time. Just because you're working from home or maybe lost your job to the virus doesn't necessarily mean that you have lots of time available. Chores still need to be done. Food needs to be acquired and cooked. Kids, animals, spouses and parents still need looking after. If anything, underestimate the time you have available, rather than overestimate it and end up disappointed and demoralised because you end up not doing as much as you had wanted to do. Allow also some buffer time for faffing, unexpected naps, small emergencies, existential dread, and the like.
Next step is to connect Thing 1 and Thing 2 and find out what is realistic for you. Don't be discouraged if you want to improve but you only have very little time available. Obviously more time is better, but if you approach the time you do have available with intention, focus and logic, you'll be surprised by how much you can do.
So once you have a sense of how much time you have in your hands in relation to what you want to achieve, the next thing to do is to identify what you need to focus on. Is it something like:
- Basic shot technique (for one or more shots)
- Your shieldwork
- Your strength (regarding, for instance, holding your shield up)
- Your endurance
- Your explosiveness (your ability to efficiently switch between low intensity and high intensity actions)
- Overall fitness
- Something else
Try to go into as much detail as you can, because this will help you train smart and make the most of the time and resources available to you.
Once you have a list of your own personal training needs - and keep it short, keep it manageable! You might even want to start with one, and three at any given time is a maximum - you need to think about ways to address them within your resources. At the moment in particular we need to be quite creative, because most of us only have access to our residence and perhaps, if we're lucky, our garden. Many countries are allowing outdoors exercise, so if running is your thing (and if it's not, could it be?) it's an easy way to work on your cardio fitness and overall endurance. If you do intervals, you can also develop your explosiveness.
Make yourself a weekly plan, but here you need to conduct a fine balancing act. Follow it rigorously, BUT do not stop to beat yourself up if you miss days. If that happens, proceed as though nothing had happened. Obviously, if you find yourself missing days all the time, it's a good idea to stop and have a look at your schedule and consider whether you assessed your resources correctly, or whether some circumstances have changes meaning that you need to adjust. And remember that anything at all is better than nothing at all.
I get bored easily, so I like to vary my workouts. I try to run at least three times a week, and have other kinds of workouts on the other days. I keep one rest day a week. I do my best to do at least some pell practice every day, but there are tricks on how to make that more palatable as well.
I am not going to dwell in the concept of motivation - that relates to Thing 1, and I'm assuming that if you have read this far, you have enough motivation to keep you going. Still, making things easier for yourself will ensure that you minimise interruptions in your training plan. If you know you are going to go running tomorrow, find and set out your running clothes the previous day. If you intend to run at lunch time, wear your running clothes in the morning. Use the time immediately after your workday ends to decompress by doing your pell routine. If you have an outdoors pell, keep your sword by the door where you can see it and it reminds you that you have things to do.
Next time, I will discuss tools that you have available for your solo training.