Perspectives: Part 2 The Evolving Minds of Athletes During COVID-19

Perspectives: Part 2 The Evolving Minds of Athletes During COVID-19

In our previous post we looked at early-stage mindsets of athletes after the initial wave of COVID-19 blew across the country and the world - changing the way we think, act and live. 

Now, we take a closer look into some of the mind-shifts that occurred in what we currently consider to be the mid-way point for COVID-19 pandemic. Part 2 takes us into the summer months - what would have been race and competition seasons - as new routines have been built, new life-hacks and #Quarantraining augmentation became the norm. And we watched as communities around the world worked together to make the best of change...

Jess Gibson - Trail Runner: @jesstategibson

On coping with change, and a focus shift.

Sunrise trail running view from Jess Gibson

“I'd been working in clinical research the whole time and we weren't sure how hard the pandemic was going to hit us, so my research team was working overtime for most of March/early April. I pretty much switched into survival mode in terms of training. Luckily I'm a bike commuter so I was able to remain fairly active through that but didn't have a lot of free time/energy to train when I got home from work, and with the trails closed it was difficult to motivate myself to run on roads.

Evening trail running views near Ottawa, Ontario. Jess Gibson refueling after a virtual marathon during COVID-19

I had a pretty stacked race season with the goal being to get enough points to qualify for UTMB but I realized pretty quickly that most of those races weren't going to happen. I honestly thought I'd be more disappointed than I actually was, but I'm relatively at peace with the fact that racing isn't likely to happen this year, and I've been using the time to rediscover my relationship with trail running. Now that the trails in my area are open again I've shifted my focus to exploring new places and making it my goal to visit some national and provincial parks that I've always wanted to run in. I'm honestly almost grateful for the forced change, for helping me rediscover the reason I fell in love with trail running in the first place, and have a whole new appreciation for the beauty of nature after living amidst a lockdown."

Kelly Fitzsimmons - Olympic Pentathlete: @KellyCFitz

On recovery, coping with change, and a focus shift.

"At the beginning of lockdown I sprained my ankle quite badly, which really made me ‘take a time out’ after our season cancellation. Since I had to focus on recovery and adapting to ‘the new normal’, we changed my plan to focus on physical rehab, happy exercise and self care.

 I’d start positively with some functional and rehab strengthening exercises and band work - one of my favourite ‘start the day’ exercises is the Sahrmann and deadbug!

Canadian Olympic Pentathlete Kelly Fitzsimmons cycling

 I rested, listened to my body and tried new things! One of those things was biking. I’d never really trained cycling before and counted on some good friends to help get me started on the Zwift trainer (and on clip ins in real life!). I valued my time on a bike being a newbie again and enjoying a sport I don’t always get the time to focus on."

Jordan Paul - Cyclist: @JordanBikesYYC

On finding opportunity, embracing change, and returning to roots.

Profile photo of cyclist Jordan Paul.

"Present day, I’m happy to say I am working in the cycling industry while the popularity of the sport explodes! I am learning so much and it will definitely translate into making me a better cyclist. I get out on my bike as much as I want. I am grabbing trophies and KOMs so I know I did something right in those winter months. My FTP? I don’t care about where it is at right now. I know I have it in me to get back into race shape, but for now, while living through a pandemic and all that goes with it, my focus is on happiness, which is at a 10/10 or in cycling terms, 5w/kg.

My training for the 2020 season kicked off shortly after the new year began - just ahead of COVID. Beer consumption was cut. Getting to an ideal race weight was the goal and it was working. I had lost my job in November and had a few promising leads in January, but I was enjoying the life of a fulltime cyclist. My goal was to have an FTP of 350 or ~4.7w/kg by June. I was well on my way, with a starting FTP of 301, February was 318, March was 333. Without a job and having a ton of free time I decided to donate my time to science and participate in studies at the University of Calgary Human Performance Lab. I was going to ride on a trainer anyways so why not do it in a lab for a greater purpose. Some of those sessions pushed me harder than I could ever do on my own. Other sessions were 4.5 hours of single leg moderate effort, I think that leg is still stronger today.

 Road cycling in Alberta, Kananaskis Country.

When COVID started to become a real concern, I was finally getting close to landing a job. Life was looking pretty good. I was in a groove with my training, joined a race team, became an ambassador for Giant Bicycles, and picked out all the races I wanted to do for the season. I even had a training camp booked at the end of March in Penticton. Then it all began, cancellations and postponements, restrictions and closures. To be honest, unemployed life and pandemic life have a lot of similarities. So, while the winter weather was still holding on, my life stayed the same. I joined a ton of Zwift races and had a lot of fun with my new level of fitness.


It was only when the weather turned nice that the effects of COVID began to change my normal. I had just received my new bike, after 7 years of riding a CX bike, I upgraded to the 2020 Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc. I couldn’t go back to indoor training after the first outdoor ride on it. Also, training? What was I training for, everything was cancelled until at least July, with things changing daily. I’m a pretty chill guy and things don’t tend to bother or worry me much. I decided to take a step back and evaluate what I should be doing with my time. After thinking about it, I went back to why I started riding in the first place. It was for the pure enjoyment of getting on a bike. Early on getting a Strava PR was one thing that kept me motivated. Doing better than I did last ride was enough for me. I didn’t want to get over confident and think that living through this pandemic isn’t going to affect me. So, I made sure to ride my bike for fun, if I wasn’t feeling it that day, no big deal, I told myself to make sure your mental health is just as strong as your FTP. I also allowed myself a few more beers then usual."


Cyclist Jordan Paul on his cycle quarantraining rig




Share you COVID journey and #Quarantraining stories with us on Instagram and Facebook. Happy training, Team!

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