What should athletes do 

regarding Covid-19?

This is an incredibly fluid situation, and things are changing from day to day....hour by hour even.  In fact even during the time of writing this article two key events on our athlete's calendars have been postponed.  As things are made aware to us we will update this article. (Rob Dallimore, Founder and Coach, Foot Traffic Endurance Sport Coaching). 17 March 2020.

Some of our members may be aware that my father, John Dallimore (Health Management Insurance Services) is a leading expert in the field of Insurance.  He has worked for many years managing Amateur and Professional Athletes alike with their requirements for overseas travel.

This current unprecedented situation we are in with Covid-19 has been a confusing and nervous time for us all.  John came across a well written piece on the TrainRight website.  We have taken some points from their article and have added a few of our own to it too.  

So what should athletes do? 

  • For the next nine months alternate Swim Cord workouts, logging in to a regular Zwift race and hammering away on the Treadmill? 

  • Barricade ourselves in our house and live off a stockpile of Clif bars?

We have a few simple, rational and fairly straightforward pieces of advice for you to stay healthy, sane and focused during this outbreak.

I urge you all to read it, and to share it to your family, friends and training partners.

📷  Scottie T

Rule #1- (as always) don’t panic

Outbreaks like this tend to bring out the worst of our fears. It’s difficult to count how many cases there are, the future spread of the virus is unknown. Be careful about where you are getting your information. If you want reasonable, rational information about the virus and up to date advice on travel and precautions go to the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control. This is not a time for ‘news by Facebook’.

Also, I would be willing to bet the vast majority of people reading this article are not in one of the high-risk categories, such as the elderly or people with compromised immune systems. This being the case, realise that if you do get sick, your job is to not infect other people who may be more vulnerable. Your life will likely be miserable for a period of time, and you should take the illness seriously, but recognise that it is likely more dangerous for others. Although we have already seen deaths from COVID-19, consequences are unlikely to be that extreme among athletes.

If you have travel in the future, plan cautiously

If you have races or events that you have to travel for on the calendar in the May-September months, do yourself a favour and look for refundable travel and accommodations, or hold off on booking flights and hotels until the outbreak plays out. Despite what you might hear from friends and family members, we don’t know quite yet what the impact of COVID-19 will be on races and travel. So, just like your sports plan be patient, don’t get ahead of the game and take it one step (or day) at a time.

Look into travel insurance if you need to make flight and lodging reservations for the spring and summer. Read the policy information carefully, however, because not all travel insurance policies cover cancellations based on personal preference (e.g. concern about potential illness risk). Being already overseas it is not possible to now arrange policy that will cover “Cancel for any reason”.

With these latest postponements I was able to cancel our accomodation and rental car.  The flights should be able to be moved to another date and the race is likely to be transferring your entry to their new date.  

Don’t despair

It can be hard to be objective when you see your carefully planned race schedule suddenly decimated by cancellation after cancellation. Many events are doing their best to postpone the race until the virus has (hopefully) run it’s course. This means that you could have quite a hefty race season coming up towards the end of the year if you are already entered. In which case you want to be as fit and strong as possible for this added load that may be coming.
If you are entered in a race and the decision to cancel or postpone has not been made yet, then it’s business as usual. Try to focus on getting yourself to the race in the best condition you can and not worry about whether it will go ahead or not. If it does then great. If it doesn’t you have just completed a great training block on top of which you can build the next block. This is what most of us do anyway. We don’t stop training after each race so this shouldn’t be any different.

Keep each other safe

Training as ‘normal’ is going to look different for everyone depending on where you are in the world, and who you live with. Remember that most of the concern around Covid-19 is for the elderly and the potential to overwhelm the healthcare sector, the personal risk is very low. So we need to think about how to keep each other safe. 

Hygiene first and foremost. Wash your hands often and limit your close contact with others outside your immediate family. Don’t share food and drinks and bottles at this time. It’s a droplet spread virus so fluids are general route of transport. Remember that these droplets stick to surfaces and the virus can be viable for a number of hours so if you are out and about limit contact with surfaces such as others bikes, door handles, and posts. No hanging onto poles at the lights etc, unclip and put your foot on the ground. Remember we need to act as if we are sick and trying to prevent spread to others.

Keep training group sizes to a minimum, especially when cycling. Not only do we need to keep physical distance, we know that the larger the group is the more dangerous it can be out on the roads. Remember that one of the primary concerns is an overwhelmed healthcare system, you don’t want to be having a medical emergency at a time like this. So keep group sizes manageable. Obey the road rules. And if the weather looks a bit dodgy its better to stay home.

If you live with elderly, or immune compromised individuals then you need to be extra vigilant as these are the individuals with a high personal risk. If you do still want to get out and train then hygiene first when you get home. Minimise close personal contact and try to limit your handling of food, drinks etc that these high risk individuals will be exposed to.

Keep yourself safe

Many of you will have experienced the pre and post race illnesses which come from training so hard that your immune system is a bit wobbly. While we think you can and should continue to train as usual, it is really important to listen to your body even if you never have before. If you are feeling a bit flat or tired, maybe have an extra hour of sleep rather than getting up for that swim. Fit the swim in later or can it altoghether. Far better to be well rested. 

Target your post training nutrition. This is crucial. Protein and carbs immediately after a workout then a full meal within the hour. That meal should be rich in colours and vegies but be wary of filling up on so much fibre that you struggle to get in enough of your macronutrients.

Now is not the time to start any type of diet especially one where you are trying to lose weight by restricting calories.YOur immune system is one of the earlier systems to suffer when you restrict calories. It’s important to keep the body stress levels down to limit your personal susceptibility to the virus.

All the information out there and the total focus in the media means it can be difficult not to focus on the current world crisis but we know that reducing stress helps support a strong immune system. So make sure you get some humor into each day, take time to meditate or whatever it is you like to do in order to destress. Talk to people about your concerns. We are all in this boat together, we should all be supporting each other in any way we can.

As with everything in triathlon, we learn so much about ourselves in this process. Take time to reflect on what you can get out of the current situation. There is always a silver lining if we care to look for it.