The UK lockdown has been tough enough but mentally and physically but, until recently, the ultra-strict lockdown in Spain has witnessed all outdoor exercise banned and only ventures to the supermarket allowed.
One such triathlete experiencing the Spanish lockdown was the Girona-based top pro David McNamee, Britain’s highest-placed male in Ironman World Championship history and a man with one of the fastest long-course run legs in triathlon.
With that running gait unlikely to be seen on the race course at least until September, the Scot has been improvising from his city centre balcony, including doing an improvised 10km after his first virtual Ironman experience.
“I just have to focus on what I can control,” says the 32-year-old to 220. “Having no idea what will happen with the race season is frustrating but it’s not something I can control. But I think this experience will be a wake-up call to how we take so many things for granted. I know personally I’ll never take for granted again the fact that I can travel the world doing something I love with very little restriction. And it’s been nice seeing how the triathlon and cycling community here in Spain have been supportive of the ban on outdoor exercising. People have adapted to the situation and supported the government’s decision.”
Like in Britain there’s been a widespread awareness of the role frontline workers are performing during the crisis, as well as heightened bonds between neighbours. “Every night we clap for the frontline workers,” says McNamee, who’s planning to be race ready by September. “That and a lot of shouting between balconies as people try and communicate. I developed a daily conversation with one of my downstairs neighbours while I was on my turbo and he was in his garden walking around in circles.”
Spain is gradually opening up some of the world’s strictest lockdown restrictions, meaning that McNamee and professional athletes can train outdoors with little restrictions. It also meant McNamee experienced his first outdoor run in 49 days. “It was like Christmas morning as a child. I did a 10.3k steady run which was painfully beautiful.”
Here’s David’s key advice on training through the lockdown…
I learnt to set myself some small simple goals to achieve each day that I could control. So, training wise, that was mainly cycling based but then I’d also target doing something else like reading another chapter of a book or making a certain meal for lunch or dinner. Write these down so that you can look back and see if you did or not.
Set yourself targets that you can control. For me, over the coming months, I’ll now focus on getting my run fitness back and then, hopefully soon, that’ll include swimming as well.
I was never a fan of Zwift until this experience, but I’ve now been converted. Also having a coach has been crucial during the lockdown, and I’ve been speaking to him more during this time than I would even coming into races.
For the swim, I use resistance bands most mornings to try and keep some arm strength and a feel for the movement.
A mixture of Zwift races, including a 17.7km time-trial which was probably the hardest I pushed myself during this period. I also focused on leg strength so did, for example, intervals of 5 x 8mins at just below FTP and 70 cadence.
After my treadmill blew up, I started skipping a lot. In terms of strength and conditioning, a lot of core work focusing on foot mobility and upper-body strength, with plenty of press ups.