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Staying mentally on track

With the world of sport coming to an abrupt halt amongst safety fears of athletes and spectators of the pandemic outbreak, Optimum Nutrition spoke to athlete Reece Barclay, a triathlete and ambassador who has endured months of tough physical and mental training ahead of a huge summer of competitions his team was rigorously preparing for.

What was the feeling like when you saw events/competitions being cancelled?

Immediately there was huge disappoint because I was in great shape coming out of the winter training and had big goals for the early season. My next feeling was that I felt a bit lost as to how to reshape my season and what I should focus on and build a plan for. Now the wider reasons for isolation are very obvious and whilst it is hard for me as professional athlete and coach it is a lot harder for a number of other people. So I am just doing my bit to follow the advise we are given and hopefully keep a positive outlook for my friend, family and my community.

How do you stay motivated to training 100% when there is uncertainty when you will be back out there competing?

I think it's fair to say my training time has stayed at 100% but my intensity has pulled back for two key reasons. The first is that I want my athletes and my own immune system at full strength through this period so super intense sessions will not help that at all. Secondly I always increase my intensity in the build phases before my events and with this fairly unknown at present I don’t want to risk burning out mentally or physically before the real work starts.

Are there any techniques or routine you have found yourself in to stay mentally strong during this time?

At present I am still adapting my program but it has been great sharing things on IG and videos through Youtube with my community. People are really positive about having some motivation which in turn motivates me to keep having fun with training and come up with new ideas and challenges. I guess making it all fun and interactive is not something I do to often as a professional athlete so its been a really nice change.

How did the alternating training methods video come about?

This fun interaction which I have been enjoying is where the idea for the video came from and we will be doing some more soon, look out for the 20 minute towel work out it is one of my favourites. I think its great to see so many people keen to train and stay fit but thinking outside of the box as to how they will be able to do it.

Every other sport had been cancelled along with triathlon.  You’re still coming to terms with it yourself but have other competitors reached out given you advice to deal with this?

A lot of athlete groups I either work with directly or indirectly are reaching out so I am giving advise on how to adapt sessions and training plans but the biggest unknown is of course the timescale of everything. Within the professional ranks it is great to see people coming together on Zwift and other platforms to share workouts and actually be social even if it just virtual it helps us all I think and certainly makes the sessions go quicker. I haven’t mastered typing fast whilst riding yet but I am getting there.

‘12 week’s’ is what we’ve been told by the government to potentially get out of this. Would the season still be salvageable? And are there any events you’d look forward to?

Yes absolutely if it was 12 weeks there would still races which would offer the World championship qualification slots but to be honest at present I am not fixing my plans on any specific races as I think this can just lead to more disappointment potentially. If we are starting to get messages from the authorities that we are over the hump then I will start to look more closely at racing and tuning my intensity higher but for now its just a great additional base building period.

How important is it to stay on top of your Nutrition now you can’t perhaps train at max capacity?

Nothing changes for me in this aspect, I want the strongest possible immune system with the best possible recovery after each session and of course the best preparation. If anything it is more important now to really understand your diet and what if any, aspects macro or micro nutrients might be missing or lacking and make sure you stay right on top of it. Stay healthy, stay positive, be kind and I really hope that this increased feeling of community isn’t something that reduces as we get through this tough time.