Training Motivation During COVID-19: Interview with Eric Lagerstrom

In the age of COVID-19, most athletes have seen their race calendars evaporate and their training facilities close. With health and safety the biggest priorities, how are athletes keeping motivated, active, and connected with their communities? We spoke with Eric Lagerstrom to get some tips.

A lot of athletes have very regimented training schedules, and when competition dates change (or are unknown), it throws that schedule off a lot. What are some tips for readjusting a hard training segment, for example, or a taper, when competition calendars change?

You need to trust yourself and know that fitness is fitness: it doesn't disappear or get sabotaged overnight. In general, if your race is postponed one day or a week or you miss a flight, in my experience the only thing you can do to really mess yourself up is stress out about it. Rather, just focus on what's right in front of you and what you can work on RIGHT NOW. Before you know it you'll be back in a rhythm and ready for what's next.

The mental preparation needed for major races is also intense – what advice can you give athletes who were looking forward to a particular race, and now aren’t sure when (or if) they’ll be competing? What keeps you mentally focused and positive?

Honestly, I'm really struggling with this right now as well. I'm very motivated by specific events. But, what I've found is that I can also get excited about training activities that I dream up. I definitely don't feel like doing a bike interval workout, but once I just get going, I usually get excited by going hard up a certain hill (or all the hills I find!) or just doing random sprints or working on technical skills in a parking lot. At the end of the day, a little less structure isn't the worst thing and it's helping me reconnect and reinforce the simple enjoyment that I get out of the sport, improvement and racing aside.

PHOTO: Transition Four
PHOTO: Eric Lagerstrom

This is the time of year when we’re all looking forward to getting off the trainer and back outside, often for group rides – and for most of us, that’s not happening. What are your favourite techniques to keep things interesting on the trainer, or while training solo?

Zwift races are the best ever. It's motivation to start riding at a certain time, and the time absolutely flies as you're trying to stay with a group, use a powerup at the right time, etc. I'll usually ride in a category one lower than I should, so I'm not at max effort, but it's a good workout. Then every so often if I'm really feeling excited I'll race with an "A" group and go for it. Also, I hear watching "That Triathlon Life" on YouTube is super entertaining ;)

Eric is adhering to all social distancing directives in his region. For many areas, staying indoors is the best precaution.