As athletes it is important to make sure we are fuelling our bodies to the optimum level. This is ever more important as we progress through the current COVID-19 pandemic.
As we adjust to the lockdown (reduced training) and newer ways of working (from home) we need to make sure we don’t consume more calories than we need and don’t comfort eat and find ourselves putting on unnecessary kilo’s! To this end it is useful to plan our nutrition and make sure we don’t comfort or binge eat.
As a rough guide, and depending upon where we are in our training cycle, we should be looking at getting 25% of our calories from protein, 45%-55% from carbohydrates and 20%-30% from fats. How many calories we need in total will depend on how hard we are training and our current weight. As an example a 72kg male athlete in heavy training may require 4,250 calories per day and a 64kg female in a similar training phase 3,725 calories.
We should aim to eat fresh, un-processed foods and include a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in our diets. We should choose wholegrain and higher fibre foods with no added salt or sugar, lower fat versions of dairy produce and any oils or spreads we use should be unsaturated. We should include a couple of portions of sustainably sourced oily fish a week and try to avoid red and processed meats. Eating more beans and pulses will also help us achieve a healthy and balanced diet which contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need.
Don’t forget hydration, we should aim to drink little and often – processing of fluids is much more efficient if the gut is kept topped up rather than being allowed to empty and then re-filled. In general and depending upon the individual, to sustain our basic bodily functions males require about 3.8ltr of fluid and females 2.9ltr per day, this is before we undertake any form of exercise. We all have different sweat rates so the replenishment of fluid when exercising will vary between individuals but as a general rule when exercising look to consume about 1ml/kg body weight/hr of fluid.
If you have been unlucky enough to have contracted COVID-19 you should have ceased all your training to enable your body to fight the virus and get you back healthy as soon as possible.
The virus can be debilitating and can mean you have to put off training for possibly several weeks. It can also leave you with residual fatigue meaning you feel tired after only a short, low intensity bought of activity.
If you monitor your resting heart rate and/or your heart rate variability, these will help you decide when you are well enough to resume training. When you return to training it is important that you start with short, easy sessions and if you encounter any symptoms of the virus, your resting heart rate increases or your heart rate variability decreases cease training and take a further period of rest.
You should aim to slowly and gradually build up the volume of your training before you start to introduce any higher intensity work. Take things steady and listen to your body to ensure you return to full fitness safely.
As the UK COVID-19 lockdown extends for a further 3 weeks how are you maintaining your swim fitness and technique?
To help maintain shoulder fitness and strength you can be doing push-ups, pull-ups and seated dips and you can use a stretch cord to perform the following exercises:
Lateral Arm Raisers – secure cord under feet, hold hands in front of belly-button, palms together, then raise both elbows to shoulder height, moving hands upwards and outwards
Internal Shoulder Rotation – secure cord to a solid object at elbow height – keep elbow tucked into side, forearm horizontal and move hand against cord tension from outside bodyline across the centre of the body
External Shoulder Rotation – secure cord to a solid object at elbow height, keeping elbow tucked into side and forearm horizontal move hand against cord tension from centre of body to outside bodyline
To help you maintain your swim technique you can use the stretch cord to practice the underwater phase of the freestyle stroke. Secure the middle of the stretch cord to something solid at about waist height, hold one end of the cord in one hand the other end in the other hand, bend forward at the waist and extend arms forwards then take a step backwards to introduce tension. You can then pull hands back and push past hips as in the freestyle stroke. Focus on keeping your palm facing backwards and elbow high (don’t let the elbow drop) – and keeping the hand moving back in a smooth straight line. You can do this pulling with alternate hands or do several pulls at a time with one arm.
Good luck with the above and we hope these exercises help keep you swim motivated.
If, due to the current exercise restrictions, most of your bike training is being done on a turbo/smart trainer indoors (or on the patio!), then you could use this opportunity to refine your position on the bike – your bike fit – and make the little improvements that could move your performance on the bike to the next level.
Have a look at videos and photos of pro riders and triathletes and look at their bike positions. You can set up your phone or tablet to record your position and then compare yourself with the pros. There are apps available that enable you to analyse your bike fit (Bike Fast Fit, Bike Fit etc.) so you can get a really good idea of how you position yourself on the bike and how you compare to bike fit best practice and to the pros.
Make a note of all your current bike settings and body position angles prior to making any changes, this will enable you to go back to your current set-up if changes don’t make a positive difference. If you make any changes, remember to change only one thing at a time – if you change multiple things you won’t know what’s made a difference and what hasn’t – and change things in small increments.
Using a turbo/smart trainer provides a consistent platform to measure the impact of changes so you can easily determine whether or not a particular change has made the difference you were looking for. Remember you are looking for improvements in comfort and efficiency, not just pure performance.
This is a great time to review your bike fit, make changes and have time for your body to adapt to those changes before we get out there racing again.
Although it may not be possible to have your regular massage session with your therapist, there is no reason why you can’t still get the benefits of a massage to help you stay healthy in mind and body.
Remember a regular, simple massage routine can help you stay injury free, recover from training sessions, relieve general stress and tension within the body and help you to relax.
So, if you have a foam roller, massage stick, massage ball or other massage “toy”, you can use these to massage yourself. If you don’t have any equipment, don’t worry you can still perform a massage without tools and gain the same benefits.
There is lots of guidance, tips and sessions available on the internet for you to follow, so take a look and see how you can keep yourself relaxed and keep your body in good condition. The ideal would be to include a regular massage session within any training or weekly routine you have. Once you find or design a session that works for you, you can generally work through it whilst watching a film or tv, so it doesn’t have to intrude too much into your daily life.
Keeping fit is important during these uncertain times and it can be difficult to achieve due to the need to follow the restrictions placed upon us all in order to keep safe and healthy.
If you are ill with COVID-19 or another virus then you shouldn’t be training, you need to allow your body and the immune system to fight off the virus and this doesn’t happen as effectively if they are dealing with the stresses of training. As you recover from the virus gently ease back into training and listen to your body, any signs of illness then halt your training for little while longer.
We can make use of the opportunity to exercise outdoors once a day and it will help if you set yourself a clear objective for each and every session you do. This way you will have a clear focus and will then get the most benefit from the session. Set yourself some interim goals, say weekly, that will push you but make sure they are achievable – this will help to keep you motivated. You can use the daily sessions to help you build towards achieving your interim goals.
If, for whatever reason, you can’t utilise the one outdoor opportunity you have for training, then look at opportunities for indoor training. Indoor bikes and treadmills can be used and if you can link them to some of the online systems out there (like ZWIFT) then these can really help keep you motivated, you can even meet up with friends in the “virtual worlds” and train and race with them. Again, for each session, have a clear objective of what it is you want to achieve.
You can also work on strength and stability. You can build a little set that works on building your core and body strength using just your bodyweight, you don’t need any special equipment. This will be a real benefit when you get back to normal training.
And don’t forget stretching – doing a yoga or pilates session will really help maintain and improve flexibility and can also be used to improve mental wellbeing.
There are lots of resources on the internet that you can use to help you keep fit and maintain your general wellbeing during this time of restricted outdoor movement. Make use of the opportunities you have to stay fit and don’t be afraid to try something new.
Remember – always follow the latest rules, advice and guidance from HM Government, Public Health England and the NHS.
As the health and well-being of our athletes and clients is at the heart of everything we do, we have decided to suspend all face to face activities with immediate effect and until at least the end of April. This includes all massage therapy sessions and 1:1 and group training & coaching sessions.
This decision has been taken with a heavy heart and is in line with the advice we have received from the relevant professional and sporting governing bodies, Public Health England the the NHS to help us keep people safe and healthy.
During this period we will continue to provide remote training & coaching plans as normal to our athletes.
During these uncertain times please follow all the latest advice provided by Public Health England and the NHS and keep yourselves safe, fit and healthy.
Our Monday evening swim sessions are cancelled with immediate effect as a result of the latest advice from the NHS and HM Government regarding the avoidance of unnecessary social contact. There will be no session on Monday 16th March nor following Monday’s until further notice.
We hope everyone understands the reason for us taking this unfortunate decision and we wish you and your families the best of health over the next few weeks and months.
At the moment our swim sessions on Monday evenings will continue as normal but please follow NHS advice, and with respect for your fellow athletes, don’t attend sessions if you have either of the below:
- a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide any updates via this website and our Facebook page.
Our Monday evening swim sessions are back on as normal from Monday 2nd March. We look forward to seeing you there.