Life has changed dramatically over the past month as we try to slow the spread of Coronavirus. We’re confined to our homes, with races cancelled, pools closed and training restricted. Despite the unprecedented situation, there are positives to be found in taking a break from triathlon training…
1. Give injuries/niggles a chance to heal
So many of us triathletes are guilty of continuing to train with a niggle and pushing through the pain which only aggravates it further. With no races on the horizon, this is your chance to let injuries and niggles heal properly with rest and strength/mobility work.
Personally I picked up an injury in my hip on the first day that social distancing really began. Incredibly frustrating as I had been running well recently, but I’m trying to look at it as an opportunity to rehab fully without the pressure of training for a race.
2. Work on mobility/flexibility/strength/conditioning
Even if you don’t have any niggling injuries, it’s always worth spending time on activities to improve strength, conditioning, mobility and flexibility. Again, it’s something that often falls by the wayside when we are trying to fit in our swim, bike and run sessions.
There is so much content available online now, such as virtual yoga/pilates classes, it’s easier than ever to work on different aspects of your fitness whilst we stay at home.
3. Take off the pressure and enjoy being active
When there’s a big, challenging race in your diary, it brings an element of pressure (which is usually self-imposed). Now that races are cancelled for the foreseeable future, the pressure is off and we can exercise for fun and fitness without any expectations.
My coach has reduced the intensity of my sessions, as there is no point in training hard right now. I’m just staying active, keeping a routine and enjoying the mood lift without any pressure.
4. Try other hobbies
Triathlon really can be all-consuming, it takes over our lives and leaves us with little time for anything else. Having an enforced break from training reminds us that there is more to life than triathlon. Switch your energies to focus on alternative hobbies or start a new project. Try drawing, painting, reading, learn a language, take a course, watch Netflix or cook a new recipe.
I’ve been working on my Personal Trainer qualification and finishing a cross-stitch project I started in 2010! I’d probably never get around to doing these things if I was triathlon training.
5. Give your skin and hair a break
Swimming frequently in a pool really dries out your hair and skin… not to mention the chlorine smell and itching. The enforced rest means that your swim fitness will decline, but on the bright side, your skin and hair will feel more healthy and less dry!
6. Get more sleep and rest
Sleep is another aspect of health which is so commonly neglected by busy triathletes.
Fitting training into a typical day means a lot of early mornings and late evening sessions. I’d get up at 5.30am several times a week to get to the pool or gym before work. Now that I’m working from home, there’s no commute time which means I can stay in bed for longer! At last, I’m getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep, which my body is thanking me for.
7. Appreciate why you love triathlon
The extended rest period helps to remind us why we love triathlon and how lucky we are to be able to do this sport. Personally I’ve learned how much I miss the camaraderie of training in a group with my clubmates. I’ll never take for granted being able to swim, bike and run with friends.
In the grand scheme of things, taking an enforced break from triathlon training isn’t the end of the world and there are positives to be found in this unusual situation. We will be back training and racing before long, but for now embrace the downtime, stay healthy and keep positive.