To Swim or Not To Swim

The “uncertainty soup” that we as athletes and coaches have found ourselves swimming in has been unsettling. It has dislodged us from our typical training routines and caused us to face the question “if there are no races, why am I training?”

One of the underlying tenets of my coaching practice is to “encourage an athlete’s pursuit of their personal vision of athletic excellence.” Essentially, I commit to help my athletes reach their potential in sport. This includes physically measurable accomplishments like PR’s and podiums but it also includes the resiliency and grace with which an athlete achieves such results.

Most of my athletes have faced these uncertain times with grace and humility. Witnessing athletes mine their hearts and minds for their “why”, has been inspiring. Unearthing the coals that give birth to the fire an athlete brings to competition has been transformative for some. This is not to say that many athletes are not also struggling to find motivation when the nearest finish line seems infinitely farther than 140.6 miles away. Regardless of an athlete’s ability to tolerate the current state of the world, smart choices must continue to be made by coaches and athletes alike. If not only for our personal safety, but also for the safety of those we love.

As the country begins to reopen in parts, it will become challenging to remain vigilant and disciplined in our task to maintain our own health and prevent the spread of COVID 19 to our families and communities. There is still much to learn about this virus. We do know that some people have had COVID 19 asymptomatically. Some have succumb to it. Some people barely survive and are left with permanent lung damage and possible kidney/liver damage as well. This article addresses possible long term effects of COVID 19 and has links to a few studies that are worth considering.

Pools and Gyms Reopening

Regardless of whether gyms and pools reopen, it is my firm stance that until a vaccine is widely available or that you have been antibody tested for COVID 19, frequenting these locations should not be part of your routine. Though it is unlikely that COVID 19 can be transmitted via chlorinated water, transmission is possible when you are near others where heavy breathing, coughing, sneezing, and spitting may occur. Open water swimming can be considered on a case by case basis.

Outdoor Riding…Yes…You can…But Please Read

I prefer everyone maintains indoor training. However, as demand for hospital beds diminishes – at least until the next wave of this virus hits – I believe riding outdoors is an option once again. 

Wear a buff/neckie/facemask when you are out. Ride alone in safe areas with little traffic. Have a fully charged cell phone. Ensure you have bright front and rear lights on at all times of the day. Do not wear headphones on your bike. Do not bring your phone out while you are actively riding. 

Please ride solo. I would not meet up with groups and strongly advise against riding in pairs. Spitting/snot rockets/coughing/sneezing are all actions that occur regularly in riding. Regardless of your awareness of your own behavior, your riding partners may not be aware, conscious, or even care if they spit without telling you. When passing another cyclist or when you are being passed, be alert. 

Training Focus Going Forward

My athletes’ training will continue to be bike and run focused. The goal will continue to be working on speed on the run and threshold work on the bike. As a coach and athlete myself, I see a huge opportunity to improve your run and bike competency. By competency, I mean your ability to produce high outputs with better form on a more consistent basis. This year can be transformative for those who accept the challenge. Embrace the opportunity. Use this time to take a big leap forward in pursuing your own expression of athletic excellence. 

The Bottom Line

As athletes, our freedom to move our bodies without compromise is vital. The short-term sacrifice of maintaining physical distance is an investment in having a body that can swim, bike, run, for years to come. The choice to maintain physical distance is also a choice to honor and respect those you love in your family and community. If you are an asymptomatic carrier, while you may never know, your actions could lead to the death or illness of others in your community.

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