Staying “In the Game” in Tough Times with Craig Alexander

With events around the globe being postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19, we’ve spoken with many of the Argon 18 family of athletes to see how they stay fit, focused and ready for when race season starts up again. Three-time Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander took a (quick) break from entertaining his kids to talk with us.

Most athletes have very strict 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?

I think the first thing to do when competition schedules change or are thrown into disarray is to try and find some positives. There are usually always some good things to take out of every situation. The training you had done before all the chaos and uncertainty will not be lost and is not wasted. Try and stay mentally “in the game.” I think it is ok and understandable to feel frustrated and disappointed. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve invested a lot. But then try to focus on things you can control and change. Given your self-isolation restrictions, this time might provide an opportunity to address technical or physical deficiencies that are difficult to address during an intense training build up.

Also, during this period, turn your focus to maintaining fitness as best you can rather than building fitness. Your top form will return when you slip back into your more normal routine at some point in the future if you are able to do even basic maintenance training now.

The mental preparation needed for major races is also very intense – what advice can you give athletes who were really 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?

Take a moment (or ten), to let things sink in and comprehend what has happened. Remember that if you have your health, things could be so much worse. Control what you can and be positive. This may be an opportunity to spend more time with family or work on improving yourself all around as an athlete, or perhaps develop some other life skills. Racing will return at some point in the future, all is not lost.

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?

To keep things interesting on the trainer, I usually have some sort of plan when I get on. Personally, I always feel the time passes more quickly when I have a specific session to complete. I often listen to music during the more intense sessions to get me really motivated. The last few years, I have also been riding on Zwift. I find it much more engaging and interesting, there are a variety of courses and you can do pre-programmed sessions or your own. You can also arrange group meetups and communicate with other riders on there, so kind of “virtual” group riding.

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

Photos by: Paul K Robbins


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