October 28 2020 – Neil Wood-Mitchell
To say it's been a weird year, is the understatement of the century. No one has escaped the clutches of COVID and we've all been affected in many ways. As athletes, used to digging in and persevering when things get tough, there's an expectation we just take this stuff in our stride. The truth is, it's taken some adjustment and sometimes we need to reframe the situation - add a little perspective and click reset.
We ask Team Huckson's Lizzy Deery to provide a little insight and tell us how she's coped with the seismic shift to what was looking like another typical year of racing.
I’ve always been busy, even as a child I wasn’t able to sit still. I wasn’t ever particularly gifted at sport, but I loved Sports Day and I was always involved in various team sports throughout my school years. Perhaps that goes some way to explaining why this year, with its lack of much sporting adventure, has felt a little off! In truth, it’s mostly down to the fact that one particular sport- triathlon- had gradually become an integral part of my life over the past few years, and suddenly, in early 2020 that was in some ways gone. Here are my ramblings and reflections on a Triathlon Season Spent in Pandemic.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I stumbled into triathlon, and before long I was completely hooked. I remember the buzz following my first sprint triathlon (Deva Divas – an amazing beginners’ event!). The night after that race I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t wait for the chance to do it again. It wasn’t my times that excited me, I hadn’t “placed”, or had a PB to beat- the sense of achievement came purely from doing the event, and having achieved something I’d never done before. I was now a triathlete…..
Fast forward two years and I had signed up to my first Ironman. This was when any “Type A” personality traits really had their time to shine. There was a plan to follow, green boxes to tick on Training Peaks and a very clear goal to aim for the following year. I loved the build-up, the focus required and the process to follow. Training for that day had consumed me, in a very positive way. Race day was amazing, and on the finish line I swore I’d never do another….. But two days later, I was online looking up races. I’d “gone well”, how much better could I do next time, with a full year to build in?! A quick chat with the coach and I was fired up and ready to go. 2020 was going to be a big year! ….
Of course, 2020 hasn’t been a big year. Despite spending all winter preparing for a long list of events and chasing PBs, I have had just one hit-out this summer! And I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get my head around this -
...as I’m sure have fellow members of the Huckson Tribe. If I’m being extremely honest, I’ve had to work hard to remember that there’s more to life than training and racing. But it’s hard letting go of such a strong driving force when it has become your norm. Of course, in the grand-scheme of things all that matters is that we’re safe and well.
But once we’ve achieved these basic needs, many of us will quickly look beyond them and strive for more. This trait, that is so encouraged and well-thought-of in society today, can also derail us when faced with situations within which “success”, as we have become accustomed to defining it, can feel out-of-reach. This can be further compounded when we see others enjoying the fruits of their labour, getting to take part in racing and events while our events are cancelled.
In reality, now that all of my races have past, I feel OK about the missed events. I haven’t even rolled them over to 2021, because I don’t want to be solely motivated by an-end goal again this winter.
I have started to plan a little, with eyes on a half-marathon PB in February 2021. But will any events happen- who knows!
One thing is for sure- I’ve realised that I’d become guilty of putting far too much emphasis on 'chalking up the next challenge' and on ticking off training sessions purely to reach that end goal. Throughout lockdown I’ve consciously worked to re-balance, acknowledging my past achievements and enjoying where I am now. And perhaps this is the biggest success we could have asked for from this season- a recalibration of sorts? Getting out with friends and into nature has also been a delightful way of reminding myself why I got into this sport in the first place.
If you’re also feeling a little blue about how this season has turned out, or perhaps slamming the hammer down ahead of 2021, don’t forget to take stock of how far you’ve come and to remember the reason we do these sports in the first place. Train safe, and have fun Team!