Triathlon BC recently awarded four high performance athletes with Athlete Assistance Funding (AAP).  This funding, contributed by the Provincial Government, is intended to offset the cost of pursuing excellence, as athletes strive to achieve podium results leading to the international level.  With no competitions on the immediate horizons, our athletes continue to prepare and maintain fitness, ready to strike when mass gathering restrictions are lifted.

Here, Executive Director Allan Prazsky, sits down and talks motivation, isolation and coping skills with the four 2020 AAP recipients, Aiden Longcroft Harris (ALC), Hannah Henry (HH), Colette Reimer (CR) and Brodie Wright (BW).

“I really enjoyed this process, and appreciate the hard work these bright individuals bring to their daily training environment. Passion and commitment is clear in everything they do, whether it be pursuing post-secondary education, climbing the ladder towards international competition or being role models and mentors to young athletes in their community,” said Allan Prazsky, “these athletes have a long and promising future that we’re excited to follow.”

What are the highlights you reflect upon from the 2019 season?

ALC: Either Super League Triathlon in Jersey where I earned the blue jersey or Ixtapa Continental Cup where I earned my first podium. Ixtapa really built my self-confidence and made me the believe I could win at the international level. SuperLeague Jersey was a great opportunity to gain experience and confidence competing at a high level and showed that I can compete with the world’s best!

HH: In 2019, my highlight race was the ITU Chengdu World Cup. It was my first world cup race and I was so excited to compete against some of the world’s top athletes. The race format was super exciting as it was a two-day event with semi-finals on the first day and finals on the second day. I raced well in the sprint-distance heat on day one, finishing in 13th place and qualifying for the A final! The next day was a super-sprint final, and I was happy to put together a strong performance and finish in the top 20.

CR: My highlight race in 2019 was competing at the Lausanne Junior Worlds in Switzerland last season in August!

BW: My favourite highlight of the 2019 season was the Kelowna Apple triathlon. When I finished my race it felt like my foot was cramping, but when I took off my running shoes I realized that the edge of my foot was cut open. The paramedics arrived to help me out, and told me to stitch it up and not walk on it or else it would get worse. I couldn’t believe I did an entire race on a foot that was cut open, and still managed to place second Junior in the super sprint! Later that afternoon I had my foot stitched up from a local family doctor. The following day I found out that a man pulled a glass bottle out from the lake at the same area that athletes exited the water!

Pre-COVID, what was the one race you were looking forward to in 2020?

ALC: I was looking forward to heading back to Ixtapa because of my history there. 2020 was also going to be a year where I start to compete at the World Cup level. I was really looking forward to learning how to race at that level!

HH: This year, I was really hoping to qualify at the U23 world championship in Edmonton. I was looking forward to potentially racing a grand finale at home in Canada but hopefully it will be back in Canada in the future!

CR: I was really looking forward to Nationals in Montreal and also the 2020 PATCO race in Long Beach California.

BW: I was really looking forward to the 2020 Montreal CAMTRI race. It was going to be my first time racing a CAMTRI, and I was exited to see how I would do in this higher level of competition with a large number of international racers!

How has self-isolation changed your training?

ALC: The main thing that has changed is probably just having to make sure you’re fully invested and following your program. With a lot of time inside and by yourself, it’s easy to get restless and want to push, it’s easy to go harder than necessary. On the flip side, you get a natural energy boost when around the group so when it comes to the hard sessions, you have to really push hard and make sure you are on it!

HH: The biggest changes to my training has been the lack of swimming with pools being closed as well as completing all of my sessions alone. I’ve had to be creative with keeping up my swim fitness so thank goodness for Zoom and my swim coach Cody’s daily stretch cord “swim” workouts! I definitely miss training with my teammates but have been doing all of my rides indoors on Zwift where I can ride with them virtually!

CR: With self isolation, my training has moved to being on my own and indoors. I have been very fortunate to have access to a treadmill and smart trainer. My group has been doing training through Zwift, the virtual cycling platform and via Zoom. Since the pools are also closed, we have been using Zoom to do group swim conditioning, with coach Cody Flegal leading the sessions Monday through Friday every morning, where we complete an hour of different swim focused band and core work.

BW: Self Isolation has definitely created a difficult time for everyone, but I’m still continuing to stick with my weekly routine and schedule. I think that athletes should take advantage of this time and treat it like a bonus training period. My coaches have been emailing me run, dryland and swim band workouts. The low amount of school work has allowed me to have more time on my bike over the past month, and I have been able to sleep an extra hour or two than I did before the pandemic. This extra time has allowed me to make training my number one priority!

Tips on coping with self-isolation as an athlete?

ALC: Just to focus on the little details that you never seem to have the time for. Nutrition, sleep, recovery, equipment, there are a thousand things to dial in.

HH: Because endurance training requires long workouts, right now especially in self-isolation, it’s important to be creative and keep sessions interesting! Training alone and indoors can get boring fast, so I’ve found it really helpful to connect with other people through Zwift. Last week, I road virtually with a friend from Great Britain! I’ve also found creating a schedule and getting into a routine helps me stay on top of everything, like training and schoolwork, so I can give each day some structure and have goals to accomplish.

CR: The best way to cope with self-isolation is to take advantage of the different platforms available such as Zoom, FulGaz and Zwift. There are so many ways to stay connected as a group that can help pass the otherwise long solo hours on the trainer. Also spending more time to work on the smaller parts of racing where you might not normally focus, such as transitions and really nailing them!

How do you stay motivated when uncertainty hangs in the air this season?

ALC: There are definitely times when I’m tired and don’t want to do that evening easy run but honestly, I really love this sport. I don’t want to waste this opportunity to become a better athlete and be unprepared when the time comes. I think just remembering why you love working out and why you do the sport is the most valuable way to stay motivated.

HH: Training for me isn’t just about racing, it’s a whole process and lifestyle. Even though racing is the fun part of triathlon, and I don’t know when the next opportunity for me to compete will be, I’m staying motivated by setting goals and working on improving my weaknesses. I’ve been using some of the extra time I have right now to focus on areas that I need to work on like strength and flexibility. I’m staying positive and holding on to hope that I will get to race again soon!

CR: To stay motivated over the last few weeks our team has put a focus on a different aspect of our training. Six weeks ago we completed a 20-minute bike TT power test. Over the past few weeks we have been putting in lots of work on the bike and in the coming weeks will do the test again to try to improve our previous power figures, hopefully reaching our new goal numbers. I find having this smaller focus helps motivate me and provided a goal and process to create an aspect of routine.

With self-isolation being the norm around the world, and no pool time available, what are your favorite go-to workouts that you do alone?

ALC: With some extra time on the bike, I’ve been exploring some logging roads and trails. It’s very good for staying isolated compared to paved bike paths. We’ve also been building up strength on the run so I’ve been enjoying the hill workouts as you can also do them on a variety of terrain.

HH: For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing 10 minute bike tests on the trainer with the goal of trying to get a personal best each week! I also look forward to morning Zoom swim dryland sessions with my swim coach Cody; they’re a great way to keep up my swim strength and stay connected with the group! I’m lucky to have my little sister, Heidi, in isolation with me so we can train together and keep each other motivated!

CR: My favourite go to solo workout has been the seven minute swim focused tabata workout we do in the morning over Zoom. It usually is a mix of swim strokes with a band and core exercises as 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for the seven minutes, and you can go through it a few times – HARD!

Triathlon BC wishes these athletes, and all athletes, continued good luck and good health!