Use the ADAPT Method for Adversity, Now More Than Ever

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By Jason Koop,
Head Coach of CTS Ultrarunning

Ultrarunning is a sport built on adversity. Extreme distances, fickle weather and countless other hurdles will seemingly coordinate and conspire in the universe’s cruel attempt to throw you off of your game. Yet, we are a triumphant lot. Whether it is Killian Jornet winning the Hardrock 100 in an arm sling after dislocating his shoulder, or a mere mortal fighting to beat a cutoff after taking a wrong turn, the annals of ultrarunning are littered with fables of tragic missteps unfolding into ultimate triumph. In Training Essentials for Ultrarunning, I introduced a concept for ultrarunners when faced with said adversity.  ADAPT is an acronym I developed to give ultarunners a step-by-step framework for dealing with (what now seems as minor) adversity on the trail. It is not a novel concept. Entities from the Boy Scouts to branches of the military all have their own analogs that were developed far before I started coaching. Yet, I found myself utilizing the ADAPT principles copiously over the past few weeks as athletes have been affected by race cancellations and postponements, ‘shelter in place’ ordinances, training run cancellations, concerns with immune function and the everchanging list of constraints stemming from the COIVD-19 outbreak. Times are certainly uncertain. And in these uncertain times, runners will have to ADAPT with each new ebb and flow of our new, yet temporary world.


When shit hits the fan, before you take another step, simply pause. Take a deep breath and accept the situation for what it is. Whether a race is cancelled, your goal event is uncertain, or you just missed a turn remember that the first step is to accept the position you are in. In the immediate aftermath of a whatever calamity you are now faced with, emotion clouds reason. Acceptance blunts emotion, leaving you more rational, reasonable and clear headed about what steps to take next. Accept first, and then you are ready to move forward.


Now that the immediate pity party is over, it’s time to take a quick and dirty assessment of what is going on. You don’t have to solve problems just yet. All you need to do is take a quick inventory of the actual issue(s). Because you have previously accepted the situation, this should be simple, to the point and if you are writing this down on paper, as boring as watching bowling on ESPN. If your race has been cancelled, then you are left with a hole in your calendar. If you can’t meet with your regular training group because of local ordinances, then you will be running by yourself for a while. Most of these diagnoses will fall into the ‘well, duh’ category as long as you have accepted the situation first. See how these two scenarios play out in the next two steps.


Now that you have your rational, well thought out and probably boring list of problems to solve, it’s time to put some brain power to the situation and solve them. If you are without your normal group run, you can create a Strava group to keep track of people. Or, you can just suck it up and run by yourself. You will find that there are dozens of solutions to running problems as long as you have taken the time to accept the situation and then diagnose what the actual issue is.


Now that you have some solutions, it’s time to plan out what you actually want to do. If you want to keep in touch with your normal run group, reach out and see if the group wants to use Facebook, Strava or some sort of other social media point of connectivity. If you now have a big gap in your racing calendar, plan your training out to the extent that your racing is known. If it changes again, just rinse and repeat the process.


When all is said and done, you have to take action. Problems will not fix themselves. You as the interested party have all of the tools in front of you to take whatever lemons you have in front of you and start making lemonade. Take action and don’t look back.

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