We are currently living through unprecedented times so wanted to take this time to write to you and give you my thoughts. As you can imagine I’ve been inundated over the past few days with questions about training, racing, squads, our training camp the list goes on and on. It’s a curve ball no one expected this year and each day things seem to be changing. The situation is volatile out there and now there is no one underestimating the impact this is having.
Firstly my deepest sympathy goes out to you, the reason I say this is because what you feel as athletes, I feel as your coach. Only we know the hard work and commitment that you have put in up until this point. Even more frustratingly I know many of you are currently in the best shape you have ever been in as you were due to race in the coming weeks. Already one athlete has had 2 big races cancelled and there will be many more in the coming weeks. I have a feeling some might get lucky but many others wont so it’s important you prepare yourself for this mentally when it does happen. There will be a plan B for you even if presently that might not be so clear.
What I am very hopeful of though is that many of these races are now being shifted to later in the year. So the opportunity will be there at some point, only time will tell us when this is. But I feel confident that the later your race the higher the chance it could go ahead.
As for my Team training camp in Lanzarote on April 25th I’ve been watching the situation closely. There have only been 4 confirmed cases of the virus in Lanzarote in the past few days, all are in isolation. Spain and the Islands are now currently on complete lockdown for the next 15 days with some of the strictest measures imposed anywhere in the world. So much so people have been confined to their houses and will be fined if seen outside without good reason. I’m just hoping this can stem the spread of the virus but who knows. What I would say is that there is a high chance the camp might be cancelled but I remain hopeful, I think the picture will be clearer once these 15 days are over so sit tight until then and I will keep you posted.
What would I do in this situation if my camp were cancelled?
The answer is easy; I would use this valuable week off to do my own remote training camp either here in London or at home in Wales. Everything on a training camp can be replicated where you live or you could travel somewhere to do it on your own. I used to love doing this as an athlete and I know many of the greats of our time liked self imposed isolation for big training camps. I remember as a young athlete watching the brilliant Ironman docu-film ‘What it takes’ and seeing how 3 time Hawaiian Ironman World Champion used to prepare for Kona. He would just rent a very basic cabin up in the mountains somewhere in Canada and train for 3 weeks before heading out to Kona.
Apart from access to incredible cycling he had access to a pool and supermarket and that’s all he needed to get himself into the best shape of his life. Something about the solitude of this appealed my nature as an athlete so a few times a year I would head to Wales or down to Nice, France to set up my own camp. I loved it and some of my best memories I have as a competing triathlete come from the times I spent training on my own in these locations. I also used to do it in London sometimes by just taking a few days off work so I could focus purely on my own training for an intensive focussed period of time.
The key is not to waste this valuable week and be creative with where you can be and what you have access to. All you need is the time off and the rest is easy. Part of my job will be to help you create the best ‘home camp’ possible, you just need to think about time available and what you have access to, the creation can then begin.
Remember this is still one of the best opportunities you will ever have to during the year to move your fitness to a new level altogether. So if you are looking for that performance in the coming months or later in the year, this is an opportunity not to be wasted.
As for my swim squads currently I plan to keep these going for the time being due to our group numbers being low. What I would ask if you are experiencing any symptoms whatsoever please do not attend.
With many pools here and around the world now closing I’ve been asked the inevitable question of how can I maintain my swim fitness during this time ? The answer is simple, you can’t unless you have access to an Endless pool, open water or some kind of of Vasa Trainer. Only swimming can keep you swim fit. But what you can do is replace the missed swim sessions with purely aerobic bike or run sessions and really get ahead in these areas. This is a terrific opportunity to help develop these further whilst you are unable to swim. Then when the pools re-open you can switch the attention back to the swim. Rest assured the swim fitness will comeback quick just takes a consistent block of training to get you back there.
During this time you could also have a good strength & mobility focus for your swimming muscles with some sports specific work. This will help keep these muscles groups primed, mobile and strong for when swimming is reintroduced.
What this will also disturb for a few is the very nature of the training you are currently doing. This will need to be looked at on an individual basis to help make sure you aren’t being stretched too far too soon. We want the peak at the right time so some adjustments might be needed. Many on the other hand will just continue as normal.
My final message is to say that racing aside, remember why you love this sport and do it in the first place, it’s not just about racing:
- The feel good factor
- The balance it helps bring to your life
- The pursuit & challenge of being the very best athlete you can be
- The feeling of being healthy and fit
- Inspiring others
It’s not just about racing
Have these in the forefront of your mind to counter act any disappointment from not being able to race at the moment. Racing is just a small part of the game and it will be there very soon again in the near future. Just be patient for now and keep putting the hard work in because when the time is right you will then be ready to grasp it with both hands.
Stay safe and healthy for now.