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A Triathlete During COVID-19 Safer at Home

Jill Edwards | Published on 4/29/2020
That’s a terrible idea…What time?” 

That is a clever t-shirt that several of us own.  As triathletes, we jokingly tease and taunt each other about signing up for grueling races, just to find ourselves signing up for that same race as quickly as we can dig out our credit cards.

The thing is, we willingly sign up for and pay ungodly amounts of money for these challenges.  We choose these challenges.  We choose to devote three months, six months, or even a year of time and energy training and working towards big physical goals. We choose to devote our extra time, money, and resources to these crazy challenges we call triathlons. We choose to wake up early for 100+ mile bike rides.  We choose to show up, day after day, to earn our $700 finisher medal and t-shirt.  

As I write this, our family is in week six of “Safer at Home” orders from our local government.  My kids and I are in week four of home school.  Most of us triathletes are six to eight weeks without a pool to do our swim training.   We are all doing our part to “flatten the curve” of a sickness that we do not want and do not want to spread.  However, none of us signed up for this! While none of us signed up for this challenge, it can still draw some similarities to the way we tackle the races and challenges that we do sign up for.

One thing I know about triathletes, is that we love a structured plan with a beginning and an end.  We also like to get recognition, a t-shirt, and a medal in celebration of the challenge we conquered!  At the end of this pandemic we likely will not be issued “I survived Covid-19” t-shirts, but we can still follow the structured plan of a training schedule.  Yes, the schedule and workouts will be different, but they can still provide that structure that we all enjoy.  Maybe we use the time out of the pool to build some solid core strength.  How about our trainer time is used to hone into our real power zones?  I’m certain there are plenty of other training tactics that we’ve said “if I only I had the extra time, I’d do more _____”.  You fill in the blank.  Let’s face it, we have the time, it just looks different.

Many of us really like the feelings of exhaustion and fatigue.  We like the thought of knowing we gave it everything we have physically. Our newly found challenge allows us to have those same feelings, but in a totally new way.  The exhaustion we feel at the end of the day isn’t always physical anymore.  For many of us, we’re tired of wearing so many hats. Full time employee, parent, and spouse are roles most of us sign up for.  Now, we have get to add full time chef, maid, teacher, and more into that mix.  On top of that, we’re still triathletes looking for time to train.  It’s ok if your training looks different right now.  It seems like we have so much time on our hands now, but in reality our time is spent very differently than it used to be spent. Give yourself some grace if your training has taken on a different look.  The time we do have might be short.  Use that short time.  Use it to build mental and physical strength.  Do the high end cardio work that pushes you to your limits in a short time.  Let’s face it, we have the time, it’s just in different increments. 

When training for races, we often talk about how the journey outweighs the tough training days.  The friendships and memories created over miles and miles of suffering are some of our favorites.  Right now, our world is chaotic.  We are in uncharted waters.  When this is all over, I imagine we will all talk about the journey.  We’ll talk about our extra time with our families, the meals around the table, the games played, the miles and miles walked, the Zoom happy hours and the time we had to slow down.  When my kids look back at this time, I hope the memories created during this time are some of their favorites.  Take the extra walk with the dog, play another game of Uno, try another new recipe together.  Let’s face it, we have the time, it’s just a different type of journey.

This is everyone,s first pandemic.  Nobody is good at it and we will all handle this differently.  Some days will be harder than others. Reach out to someone if you need help.  Be kind.  Be available.  Be a friend.  Be a teammate.  Be present.  Let’s face it, we have the time.