Coronavirus tips for athletes: How to look after yourself while your life is on hold

Physio Neil Gallagher explains how to take care of yourself so that when the race season restarts you'll be stronger, faster and happier than ever


It’s clearly a time of great uncertainty for us all, but it’ll be doubly frustrating if you’ve been pouring out blood, sweat and tearsover the past three months for an event that’s now postponed. However, I want you to flip your disappointment into optimism, and here’s why…


Whether this is your first triathlon or you’re a seasoned marathon runner, you would’ve been at the sharp end of your training and undoubtedly either starting to pick up niggling injuries or your training is really beginning to drag. So now you have the perfect opportunity to chill out, recover and come back stronger.

Load management

The biggest reason endurance athletes get injured is when they have a spike in their training loads without giving their body enough time to recover. A good training programme should always be challenging and progressive but our bodies like to do this gradually, so use this time to cement your current fitness level then you can have a more gradual increase towards race day.

Strength and conditioning

Endurance athletes often overlook strength training as they worry about muscle soreness and becoming too bulky. However, a good strength and conditioning programme not only makes your muscles, tendons and ligaments more resilient to injury but can also help improve running economy – a stronger muscle moves you faster for longer.

Strength training for swimming: 6 key gym exercises

Strength training for cycling: 6 key exercises

Strength training for running: 6 key exercises



Now that the weather is improving there couldn’t be a better time to get outside (if movement restrictions in your country allow it, of course) and work on your run speed endurance. During a winter training programme these sessions often get pushed aside as nobody enjoys sprinting through puddles in the dark. So pencil in one or two sessions a week where you raise that heart rate. These don’t need to be long; it’s the quality of each session and the effort you put in that’s important.


As I mentioned earlier, when you’re near the end of a training programme it’s often a grind and a bit tedious, but now you get to enjoy exercise again. You don’t need to turn on Strava and check your average KMPH or how quick you completed a specific segment. You can head out the front door, turn right (or left) and go at whatever speed you want.

What to do now

Most of the major multisport events have now been postponed to the autumn, which gives you ample time to stop, reassess and go again. So firstly chill, relax for a couple of weeks then see it as a mini pre-season where you can iron out any of your perceived weaknesses and fix any niggles.

If you aren’t already doing one then prioritise your strength and conditioning programme over the next 2-3 months. And you don’t need a gym, as there are any number of ways of making a home workout difficult enough to build strength. Then when it comes to three months out from the race and you want to start prioritising the long runs/cycles again, you’ll be in a more robust starting position.

Need ideas for strength training sessions? Check out our strength and conditioning section on Flipboard

How to stay sane and keep exercising through the Covid-19 pandemic

Coronavirus: how to stay motivated through the pandemic

Coronavirus: What should I do if my A-race is cancelled?

Neil Gallagheris a consultant physio atSix Physio Leadenhall, and specialises in running and cycling injuries.


Get 220 Triathlon delivered to your door with a one-off payment

We are here for you. If you’re used to buying our magazine from the shops, you can order 3 copies of 220 through this link with a one-off payment and receive our next 3 issues delivered to your home. This offer is risk-free, doesn’t require starting a Direct Debit and offers you a 15% saving with no delivery charge. If you are happy to set up a *Direct Debit with us we can offer you greater savings and your first 6 issues for just £9.99. Pick what works for you and you’ll soon be receiving  direct to your door. Stay safe everyone

*After your first 6 issues your subscription will continue at £21.45 every 6 issues. If you cancel your subscription within 2 weeks of receiving your 5th issue you will pay no more than £9.99

Live overseas?

With a digital subscription 220 Triathlon magazine will be available on your device as soon as each issue is published


A 220 Triathlon Magazine subscription is the first step towards reaching your goal, whether it’s your first triathlon, you’re chasing that elusive PB or you’re taking on the elite. Whatever your level, gaining that extra ounce of performance over water, road and track is what this magazine is all about. With your 220 Triathlon subscription, you have the experts on hand to encourage and guide you every step of the way.