These times of crisis - I speak like I have weathered many before - though, in reality, I'm like a deer blinded by lights in a concrete jungle. Uncertainty and fear are unceasing.
Like the deer, I have frozen in this new landscape, fight or flight waring with each other and the rational cognition trying to negotiate between both.
We need our inherited animalistic instinct and our nurtured loftier perspective to not only withstand but build something new whilst the seeming walls of society are crashing around us. "I'm not sure" is my only anchor, fight or flight will expel opinions that seem good today and ludicrous the next.
I am writing as a humble endurance athlete and coach. My life experience has existed inside a privileged bubble of performance sport and it is from this perspective that I will offer up some words of thought and introspection.
The last 12 weeks, for some, will have been an opportunity to develop their physiology; more time to dedicate to hours on the bike, longer runs, home HIIT sessions and dry land swim routines.
I, myself envisioned a plan that would take me to the next level - more time to train without the stress and disruption of racing, perfect. Yet, did I need more time to train? I'm a full-time elite triathlete, I have all the time I need.
The fallacy of more training and more time to train will relate to improvement is something I have stood by throughout my entire career, until now. I had a moment of clarity, a rational moment following a period of overzealous ambition. I've had enough time to train for years, time wasn't what I needed.
The hours spent have been diluted into mediocrity, my stimulus for adaptation gone, and thus plateau. Training whilst on a performance plateau is easy, it is just the same thing you've always done, and it gets easier because the body has adapted, so easy that it doesn't stimulate growth. It's an illusion, however, a reinforcement of the past. I felt rich, thousands of miles of credit, though in reality their value, equal to an archaic currency. Over time lost my wealth, my investments yielding little.
Training isn't volume, training is safeguarding those days when you do great things or even just good things. Volume is a small outcome of an intelligent plan designed to make us fast, strong, durable and brave.
The last 12 weeks for me was an opportunity to reinvest, not in physiology but psychology and philosophy. I've learned things and established values that I will take forward.
Build training around a cycle that accommodates enough time to rest and grow. Often a week isn't enough time to fit in the important components of training and adaptation.
Focus on the flow, or the zone or intention when doing quality. This is your reference point, pace, hr, power changes, this state of flow, when immersed is the bedrock to performance.
Find a new a stimulus, but be wary and ease in. These might be weaknesses or even areas you believe, aren't relevant. I didn't think max sprint speed would be useful for triathlon racing, but it is.
Enjoy the feeling of growth, when you're training feel the change you go through each week and appreciate it. Don't lose that feeling.
My journey, henceforth will not be focussed on accumulation on miles or instant achievement. It will take time to appreciate my personal growth. Every day will be an opportunity to reflect on my progress; I'll recall the times I achieved flow, appreciate those days of growth which often come with rest, and my learning of skills in response to new stimuli. Tom Bishop
Head Coach - 99 Triathlon