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Training As A Triathlete Through Lockdown

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I don’t think I will be alone in saying everything has felt a little bit all over the place this week, but as the week comes to an end I feel as though I am starting to find some normal in the abnormal. I am finding it helps to make new goals for each day and stick to a “normal” routine as much as I can.

As triathletes, it’s easy to disguise unhealthy obsessions with food or exercise as “training” and it’s easy to use such routines as coping mechanisms for perhaps some ordinarily slightly pathological behaviours. We like to see a sea of green in training peaks, we like to eat a certain way, we like to train a certain way and as a general rule, we like to “stick to the plan or programme”

After the initial wave of panic amongst our peers in response to closed pools, closed gyms, empty supermarkets and movement restrictions, we are left with a choice - to adapt to the change and rise to the challenge or to sulk about this new life and hang around wondering when it will end.

It’s a bit of a learning curve for us all, and it is easy to see that some are finding it easier than others to cope. I know that if you had put me in the same situation several years ago I don’t think I would have had the emotional or athletic maturity to adapt my life in response to the ever evolving world around us.

It helps to remind oneself that everything in life is a choice. I have chosen to embrace the change and be constructive in my approach - because what’s the alternative?

Here are a few lessons I have learnt this week:

  1. Doing daily mobility and physio exercises makes you feel healthy both psychologically and physically.
  2. Bodyweight/plyometric based strength workouts can be just as taxing as gym based sessions, if you don’t believe me try Soraya’s Core/Plyo “S&C Live” session, I felt like I’d run a marathon the next day!
  3. Land based "swimming" might be harder than normal swimming - RIP Arms. I am looking forward to seeing whether going back to basics, breaking down the stroke and working on dry land form translates in to improved technique in the pool.

I am yet to figure out the virtual world of Zwift, hopefully perseverance pays off in this situation and by the end of the lockdown I might be less of a technophobe and have a few more virtual strings to my bow.

With a new life comes new challenges, it feels fun to be challenged in an "alternative" way again. I feel a bit like I am studying for vet school finals again - being locked up in the flat with only myself for company. It prompts you to develop strategies to maintain efficiency and effective time management. Eg. Small exercise breaks throughout the day, limit social media use, sticking to a waking/sleeping routine.

My number one challenge is avoiding restriction and compulsive behaviours. Being surrounded by an unstable world is challenging my recovery (orthorexic/anorexic behaviours of the past) but something I think I'm strong enough to cope with right now! Game on brain. Training smarter is more important than training harder right now, I feel more in tune with my body and know when I need to rest (even if sometimes I try to trick myself/ignore my own advice - now is not the time to ignore!)

Psychological stress can have as big an impact on your body as physical stress - monitoring Heart rate variability (HRV) is a good way to monitor this and know when your body needs a little less stress.

I really feel as though the current situation is really making us slow down and think about our core values and our "why's" in the world of triathlon (or whatever other hobby you might have) - it's helping me to develop habits and routines that I (think/hope) I will carry forward beyond this time.

About the author: Rebecca Fellows is an Ironman triathlete and Sundried ambassador.

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