How U.S. Elite Triathletes are Adjusting to the Coronavirus Crisis

By Nick Hehemann, USA Triathlon | March 17, 2020, 3:36 p.m. (ET)
 

 

The rapidly evolving situation with the coronavirus pandemic has impacted just about everybody, and that includes the multisport community and the elite triathletes who represent Team USA.

During this time of uncertainty, we wanted to check in with some of our elite U.S. triathletes around the world. Here’s a look at how they’re adapting in their training, what they’re doing to remain positive during changing circumstances and what advice and encouragement they can provide for age group athletes everywhere.

USAT: How has your training changed during the coronavirus outbreak? How are you going to be practicing social distancing, while also staying committed with your workouts?

“My training has changed slightly. With pools being closed, I have had to be creative looking into different solutions on how to keep up my swim fitness. This includes using stretch cords, specific weight exercises and preparing to swim in lakes with the necessary gear. Otherwise, I am still able to ride and run outside, but I have taken the approach to train solo or with my boyfriend/fellow triathlete, Matt, to practice social distancing. I typically train in a group environment, but I am making the most of the solo training and using this time to practice mental exercises and finding peace in the solo journey. I also take confidence in knowing that while I may be training alone, we as a triathlon community are experiencing the same challenges, and I am not alone in this time of change and uncertainty.” — Kirsten Kasper

My training has transitioned from a majority of group workouts to training solo for every workout possible. Getting out and riding and running alone or with my dogs is a great way to keep social distance and do my part. Strength workouts have been a little more challenging without having access to a gym. To keep on my program, I am sticking with the same or similar movements and adapting the type of weight. For some movements I am using resistance and for others I am grabbing items in my surroundings such as jugs of water, cans of food and even a heavy potted plant for some squats. (I bet picturing that will make you laugh).” — Allysa Seely

“We are trying to do swim specific strength training in hopes that it carries over into the pool once they re-open. Other than that, my training hasn't been compromised in many other ways. Thankfully the weather is getting nicer and I can bike and run outside and it can easily (and safely) be done with other people while keeping your distance. If I am at home on my bike trainer or on a friend's treadmill, I am usually the only one there so I don't have to worry much about distancing myself.” — Melissa Stockwell

USAT: How are you doing your best to stay positive through these uncertain times?

“In order to stay positive, I’ve really connected and used the support of others. I’m aware of the fact that my feelings go through waves and optimism and pessimism and although it’s not fun or comfortable I know that’s OK. I’ve done this for a couple years now, but I’m continuing to write 10 things I’m grateful for each day and three intentions I have for the next day before I go to bed at night. Also, I’m just being really appreciative of each day I have to go outside and exercise at this time.” — Katie Zaferes

“It is a unique time in history right now, which can be daunting or exciting. I am choosing to look at this time as a moment where we all get to directly impact history with our actions. Taking walks outside, playing music, reading a new book has all helped take my mind off the unknown. Knowing that the sacrifices I am making will help others also makes the challenging times a little easy. It is not very often we get to slow down, take advantage of it and make the most of it.” — Allysa Seely 

“I am able to stay positive through the uncertain times by focusing on what I can control. I may not be able to swim normally right now or train with people, but I see it as an opportunity to focus on areas I need to improve on in the bike or run. I can put more time and energy into these sports and make the most of the situation.” — Kirsten Kasper

“It is clear from the rapid escalation of the situation that I cannot act like this is about me. Racing, training and normal things like going out to eat have lost their usual significance as it has become clear that major lifestyle changes are necessary for the time being. What is important is remembering that these statistics that we read every day are people with family and friends who care deeply about them. I feel positivity and hope when I see people change their lifestyles in order to give our medical workers a fighting chance to save lives.” — Summer Rappaport

USAT: What advice and encouragement can you give to our age group athletes right now to stay positive and stay committed to training and living a healthy lifestyle?

“Now, more than ever, it is important to take steps to stay physically and emotionally healthy. Create a routine with sunlight, healthy food and training and do your best to stick to it.” — Allysa Seely

"The great thing about being a triathlete is that there is a lot of training that we can do while social distancing or being confined to our homes. Many of us own bike trainers, swim bands, and some other fitness equipment that can help maintain fitness and sanity. If you really need partners to get going, get creative. My husband's triathlon training group recently switched their group rides to at home interactive Facebook Live events, and there have never been more options for virtual training, such as Zwift. Remember why you started triathlon in the first place and try to reconnect with those reasons.” — Summer Rappaport

“Use biking and running as your way to manage stress and anxiety that may arise. Create specific goals for yourself on what you want to improve on in the bike and run. Instead of dwelling or worrying about the swim, change the mindset and acknowledge you have more time to spend on the other sports. Or, maybe it’s tapping into the mental side of our sport and strengthening your mental skills. At the end of the day this is out of our control, but if we can find areas in our life we can control such as our skills, intentions and overall happiness, this will lead to a much smoother time through this challenging situation.” — Kirsten Kasper

“I think the best thing you can do right now is to keep your normal routine and carry on as much as you can. With so many unknowns right now, having that normalcy can help ease the mind. When I start to get anxious about it all, I find the best thing to do is to grab your bike and get out and ride. It truly does help. And once we resume some sense of normalcy we will look back and be glad we kept on going with the same end goal in mind. Be active, stay healthy and be positive for a brighter future. This too will pass.” — Melissa Stockwell

“My advice is to focus on what you can control. Try to create new goals based on your current situation and limitations. Focus on what you CAN do. Be kind to yourself if you fall short of those goals that are either mental, emotional or physical. And in a time where social distancing can create physical space between you and others, know that you can still reach out in a plethora of other ways to connect with others. The goals for training and racing may take a back seat for the time being, but other personal goals can be put at the forefront.” — Katie Zaferes