What a year it has been. There is not a single person in this world who hasn't felt the effects of Covid-19 in a way and I know I am very fortunate compared to many who have lost almost everything economically from the virus' impact. As an athlete, is has been a bumpy ride in a sense, from a season being cut, heartbreak, anger and eventually becoming at peace with the situation and living one day at a time. In a sense I have been more relaxed then ever and quite literally taking the time to smell the flowers.
With our strict lockdown in South Africa, I would be lying though if I didn't admit that my fitness had dropped significantly after probably being in my best shape ever in March... more so, was my mental state as an athlete which seemed to be in a bad space, especially once I realised my European Season too was not on the cards this year, my motivation dwindled...
I decided that I needed to just use this time to train consistently with little goals that I could do week after week. Here are a few things I did to try and motivate myself once we were allowed outside again:
1) Find a Training Partner - I am so lucky to live in a town with such amazing athletes, I reached out to my close friend and past running club training partner Luzaan De Wit who is one of SA's top Track runners and is also going to run for a University in the US. Turns out she lives just up the road and so we started running together, after the first week we realised that we are pretty much perfect training partners! Its almost been 2 months now and we run at least 5 times a week together which has been probably my biggest motivation each day. Highly recommend this and its easy to do by social distancing yourselves.
2) Get onto Zwift Cycling- I reached out on Social Media and found a Smart Bike Trainer that a very kind soul lent me. I must say I find the training really motivating on Zwift and I enjoy that I can do test such as what my 20 minute FTP is and then from that make correct programs to increase my cycling strength.
3) Try to make a training Routine - Specifically with Luzaan, we train at the same time almost everyday and I find it adds just a bit more of a routine to my lockdown lifestyle.
4) Time Trails - I have never really done individual time trials, but I have found that with no racing I can focus on my training and see improvements in consistent time trials as the weeks progress. I also believe that my mental strength has increase because I now don't feel like I need someone to push me and maybe I can extend my limits alone, on a quiet road and challenge how far I can push myself without competition. It is something I now hope to keep in my training as the years progress because I see major benefits from it.
5) Learn new skills and keep your mind busy - In the past month I have opened an online art store, started doing online classes, got new Graphic Design clients , started offering personal training strength plans and applied for many online jobs.
After only a week I felt like I had a new sense of purpose, I began to feel like myself again and overall felt the cloudy daze of this time starting to disappear.
Then came VIRTUAL RACING! I started to see The Premier League advertised on social media and it caught my eye. It is a huge virtual Road Cycling Series every Tuesday morning in South Africa. I reached out and luckily found a team that needed another lady. The Practice SA took me in and they have been more than welcoming to me. I have never met any of the athletes on my team but It feels so good to have that social and competitive element each week. We use an app that allows us to communicate and motivate each other every race. The races are also very enjoyable events and the force me to get up early for the 5:30am start time. Each race is always on a different race route from around the World and in formats such as 30 minute team races to Individual Time Trial events scoring towards the teams overall points. I am very interested in pursuing more Virtual racing as a training tool in the future and I think it is a perfect solution for social distancing race fun.
Overall I have learnt that many things which I thought held a great deal of importance before lockdown are actually ideas made up in my head which used to give me a sense of control in a way. I have found this time has given me a great perspective, hours of stillness not know before are now cherished and very quickly it becomes obvious which people, activities and places are most missed and most cherished. I love the sense of community which has grown during this time and the desire for healthier lifestyles which I have seen.
The world can take away everything from you but your spirit only you can control and I hope you let it run free during this time and you find passions you never had time to explore before. Find Freedom.
Thanks for tuning into my lockdown life,