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Lockdown Life

Hey Everyone,

Hope everyone’s adjusted to the new normal amongst all the chaos. I’m writing this as I sit on my patio at home in Barbados, where I have been since February 23rd. I was unfortunately diagnosed with a stress fracture on February 10th, which was going to result in no Olympics, as I wouldn’t be able to be back to full training, furthermore racing, until around the middle of May, which was when the Olympic qualification period set out by the ITU was culminating. This also meant a whole overhaul of what my 2020 season was going to look like. Little did I know….

I remember meeting with Joe to get my new CES wheels on crutches. After seeing those beauties, with my name and the Bajan flag on and all (!), knowing it would be over a month until I could finally ride them due to my injury was gutting. I flew home a few days after that to begin my rehab with no bike, for what was supposed to be a few weeks at the beginning of my rehab period, super excited to head back to Cardiff in the middle of March, build back my training, and more importantly ride those new beauties. Little did I know….

Barbados was about 2 weeks behind the UK in terms of the virus spread and due to our very dense population of 280,00 people in 166 square miles, our Government took swift action in shutting us down to try to reduce the spread. On April 3rd, we were placed on 24 hour lockdown, only allowed to leave‘the curtilage of your own home’ for essential trips. All businesses outside of these essential services were shut, and beaches closed. We weren’t even allowed out to exercise.

Trying to keep fit with no bike, no run shoes (the stress fracture meant I couldn’t run anyway), no gyms and no beaches to go swimming/aqua jogging was quite the predicament. Up to this point, due to my injury, I was in a slump mentally and emotionally, the injury, and the last 1.5 years of Olympic point chasing, absolutely shattered me. With no focus, no races and no equipment, I could’ve been en route to becoming twice the man I was…. literally.

In hindsight, writing this 3 months post injury, and 2 months since the pandemic began, this time away from the high performance environment has done me a world of good. This 3+ month break was exactly what I didn’t even know I needed, mentally and emotionally.

I was lent a smart trainer (with a Zwift log in), a bike and a swim belt so I could keep some sort of fitness during the 24-hour lockdown. Zwift is unreal, as I’m sure everyone who rides a bike has figured out during this time and made indoor riding a whole new world. But the realty was that I wasn’t bothered in the slightest about getting fit or training hard. There was by no means any ground-breaking training going on. It was more an ‘exercising’ regime.

I did things whenever I fancied, maybe 1 session a day, mix and matching. I’d get on the bike, but sometimes after 20-30’ I got bored, so would hop off and do a little strength and conditioning circuit or something else randomly athletic. My physio and coaches back in Cardiff sent out ‘at home’ strength and conditioning workouts which we could do by ourselves, and even did some live video workouts via Facebook for us to follow along. But some days I’d just do a 15’ yoga video from YouTube, or play frisbee in the garden or attempt to chip golf balls into a bucket I floated in my pool. I took the ‘R’ out of ‘routine’ and plonked ‘andom’ beside it. But that’s what I needed.

I’ve used this time to really reflect and take a step back. The last 2 years were extremely intense, racing and training all over the world with the sole focus of chasing Olympic points and I didn’t take a second to just breathe or actually think about what I was doing. But now the world has pressed pause, it’s given me the time to build my body back both physicallyfrom the injury, but more importantly mentally. I’m doing a full reset.  

Barbados has now slowly begun to ease the lockdown. The beaches are open from 6-9am and 4-6:30pm, and I’ve started building back my running (very slowly). Now having full function of my body, and getting the beach back, which is my number 1 favourite thing (and probably every tourist who comes to Barbados) and is what makes home, home for me, has definitely brought a huge positive shift in my mindset and mental wellbeing. I’m actually planning my days again, and am enjoying having some structure and exercise endorphins back. The embers of that internal fire are slowly starting to burn again. Keep safe, keep sane and it’s alright if you ‘r’ is followed by ‘andom’ instead of ‘outine’.

Flights to the UK are cancelled until July 1st, so I’m hoping by the time I get back to Cardiff, I’ll be resembling something of a triathlete again. Thanks for reading.

Matt



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