Hey, #ShokzSquad! Our names are Justin Metzler and Jeanni Seymour and we are a married professional triathlete couple based in Boulder, CO. We’re here today to discuss the challenges that many athletes are facing in the sports world due to COVID-19. Just like you, nearly all of our pre and mid-season events have either been postponed or cancelled, which has presented both a mental and physical challenge. Knowing that many others in the multisport community are having similar feelings, we wanted to extend a hand in whatever way possible by giving our two cents on how to handle this tricky and unchartered situation.
Thankfully both of us have amazing support networks that we have built over a number of years that start with each other and then extend to coaches and training partners. Our first step was to talk through all of our options internally and then take those processed thoughts and emotions to our support staff. Our recommendation would be for you to do the same. If you have a coach, reach out to them and discuss your options. If you have a friend or training partner, they could also help. Using the power of social media to reach out to pro athletes like ourselves individually is also a great option and I think many of us are going to be more willing to chat than you may think!
Having gone through the process ourselves, here are our main tips to move forward:
What you shouldn’t do
-Maintain your current level of fitness until you get the chance to race again. The unfortunate reality is that many events will likely not resume for many weeks or months. With lots of athletes nearing top early-season shape before the postponements occurred, it’s important to recognize that high fitness is not sustainable for a long period of time. This does not mean you need to take a big break from your training, but perhaps take the intensity level down a few notches and let your body come down so you have some room to ramp up again when it counts.
-Try not to hammer every session or extended planned workout durations to kill time or feel accomplishment. No doubt about it, training is an amazing release and can be therapeutic for most of us. It’s easy to get stuck into smashing every session in order to feel good about yourself when so much going on in the world is negative. We recommend trying to manage the intensity of your workouts so that you are not “wasting” those efforts in training because you only get so many, and saving them up for race day is key. Using tools like a heart rate monitor, power meter or choosing the right playlist with songs at a lower beats per minute can help.
What you should do
-As mentioned, reach out to a resource like a coach or training partner if you have one. Everyone is going to handle this situation differently and therefore it’s important to discuss options that are specifically catered to your sport, training, and current mental state.
-Regardless of how you get there, process your emotions, feel what you need to feel, but accept the situation and make an edited plan to move forward. Having a plan and establishing a routine is so important during this time. Training without a goal can feel aimless and ultimately will be unproductive. So set some sort of goal or target and work backward from that. For example, Justin is trying to work on his cycling so he is going to take a step back from his swimming and running right now to focus on getting his biking where it needs to be by race time.
-Find hobbies outside of training that distract you from focusing on what you may feel you are missing out on. We have been diving into good books, connecting with friends virtually, learning new skills and doing our other jobs in addition to racing as well and as passionately as we can from home.
Glass half full mentality
-We have chosen to look at this unprecedented situation as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. Both of us have focused on 1-2 areas to improve on and are making it our mission to turn those weaknesses into our strengths by the time we can get back out on the racecourse.
Other training tips
-Get outside as much as possible, but make sure to enjoy that process rather than focusing on the effort or intensity. There will be a time and place for that in a few months/ weeks and you want to be physically/ mentally ready when that time comes
-Create a great playlist to help you stay motivated and push through your harder sessions. You can follow Jeanni and Justin on Spotify to see what they are currently listening to.
-Dial-in your at-home routine and make the best with whatever you have at your disposal. We have been all over the foam roller, core work and elastic stretch cords for swimming.
It’s a tough time for everyone but we firmly believe that if we band together as a multisport community we will be stronger when all of this is said and done. Remember to train safe, train smart and always keep going.
-Justin and Jeanni