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Time for a bike focus: a pro deals with training while physically distancing

Finding a positive direction during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Tamara Jewett shares her new training routine.

Like most people in North America, my world got turned on its head starting around Friday, March 13. (Figures…) I was gearing up for Oceanside 70.3, in the shape of my life and very excited to get to the start-line. Obviously, all of my race plans are now postponed indefinitely.

Tamara Jewett on her way to a third-place finish at last year’s Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires. Photo: Peter Jewett

by Tamara Jewett

Just under a month into physical distancing, I have a new routine and training is mostly going well. My partner and I (and my sister and her partner, also my run coach) have temporarily moved in with my parents in their house outside of Uxbridge, Ontario. They have an indoor gym where I can spin and run on a treadmill and some private forested trails (cleared many years ago for cross-country skiing by my cousin, Gordon Jewett, who competed at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics). We are surrounded by quiet country roads where, for 95 per cent of my outdoor runs, I see exactly zero other people.

We are staying as isolated as possible, especially conscious of protecting my parents’ health. My favourite part of my new routine is that every morning at 7:30 AM (unless I am in the middle of a group spin on Zoom), my partner and I “commute” to his at-home office by walking a loop through the forest.

The biggest change is no swimming. This was hard to accept because I made dramatic, hard-earned improvements during an exhausting swim focus in December/January. I am doing dryland swim band work instead and pilates classes offered by @behotyogatoronto over Instagram Live. I bought a swim tether that I hope to use in a large pond on my family’s property – once the ice fully melts.

I have moved into a bike focus – the biggest area in which I need to make improvements anyway. I have used Zwift since November, but I am particularly enjoying three group spins over Zoom each week led by Tara Norton, who has moved her TTrain Studio online. It is strangely comforting to have those spins programmed into roughly their normal time-slot in my week, and it is lovely to see familiar faces.

As a historically injury-prone athlete, I am nervous about no longer having access to the osteopath and physiotherapists that I rely on as part of my normal routine. My coach, Suzanne Zelazo, and I built some extra recovery into my current program to compensate. I am also doing a lot of Yin Yoga (which also helps me to relax and stay grounded) and ELDOA stretching.

I am interested in the virtual races being set up on Zwift and by Ironman, but I don’t think it’s something I want to do myself. Social, outdoor race scenarios are what motivate me. I hope to have at least some of those back by the end of the year, and particularly hope to still be on the start line for 70.3 worlds in New Zealand in November.

For now we are planning my training around three possible scenarios: one in which racing resumes mid to late summer, one that focuses on racing through the fall and early winter, and one in which I spend 2020 focused on building some awesome bike fitness to use in 2021.