COVID-19 has disrupted life as we know it, including the sports and athletic lifestyle we love. As a professional triathlete, I’m out of work for the time being. Events have been cancelled and training has become difficult, both practically and emotionally. As it became obvious how serious this pandemic was and continues to be, and events for the foreseeable future were called off, my motivation to train fell flat. Swimming pools were closed, squad environments banned; for some only safe and permitted options are indoor trainer and treadmill sessions. Fortunately in Australia, we can still move around outside pretty freely, maybe to that secret swimming hole if you’re lucky enough. In some instances though, travelling around for training is not worth the risk. Some athletes were quick to share videos and tips on how to train indoors, perhaps even share their long or tough workouts as if the situation hasn’t disrupted their mindset at all. Athletes have bought large above ground swimming pools to get their miles in, tether style. But I’m not really interested in this level of adaptation. I think the advice that reflects my mindset at this point is that it’s okay to feel a lack of motivation, and it’s okay to not be doing very much activity in this time.
As endurance athletes, training long hours to us doesn’t often seem like much of a chore as we love it and are intensely passionate about what we do. But for me, an extension of that passion exists because I love racing and love competition. With that element removed, it’s hard for me to get the best out of myself each day. Add me to the list of people who aren’t coming out of this fitter because of a lack of training discipline, and I’m okay with that. For the last four weeks, I’ve taken this time away from training to do things that have kept me busy in others ways, and to fill the void of satisfaction that training hard took, until recently.
For instance, I called in a delivery of treated pine sleepers and concrete in November last year to build a veggie garden for my fiancé Ashleigh. I never got around to this in the heat of Summer because I couldn’t fit the cumbersome labour around training, but I was presented an opportunity to complete it. I seized it (luckily with a helping hand from Ashleigh) and we couldn’t of been happier with the outcome. The seeds were sown, and now we’re growing veggies. It was a was a really fun hands-on project, and now Ashleigh has a hobby to help her through this ‘stay at home’ period. The hardest part of it all was find the seeds or seedlings to fill it with!
The stoke of this project let to the next project, and I embarked on something much more ambitious. Three times and much timber, concrete, screws, drainage and soil material was called in to start the next job; another round of retaining and garden bedding. I’ve been wanting to take a start at this landscaping project for at least two years, but was always intimidated by the task and perceived lack of skills to complete it. I got started by weeding the area heavily overgrown area first, and like that I was underway. I learnt as I went along, and while my body is kind of bent and broken now (thank goodness for a Bexters crystals bath!) after an enormous amount of digging, lifting and shovelling, I’m almost finished and couldn’t be happier with the result. With a trip to the local native nursery (one of my happy places) today, it signals that the end of this errand is nigh. Not everyone might have a garden to get out into, but I bet that there’s for sure something you can do outside of the ordinary to help you through this period. Challenge yourself, maybe try something you never thought it possible to do. Ash has been passing the time baking sourdough bread, the product of which has turned out to be amazing. Two thumbs up Ash! I’ve seldom seen her so happy as to when the bread has come out of the oven and when she’s ticked her efforts off with satisfaction. We can still have little victories, even when we’re not racing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still exercising, because that continues to make me as happy as it always have. But it’s not much and I certainly wouldn’t call it training. But I’m enjoying less of that while we all take a deep breath. Maybe at my next race I’ll be miles behind the competition, but for now, I’m happy and satisfied despite the chaos around us. Stay healthy, and my best wishes to you all during this period.