Since the start of November my husband and I have been based in Phuket, Thailand so i can spend my winter triathlon training with a local triathlon group led by Jurgen Zack, the German triathlon legend.
Up until 2 weeks ago, unless you read the news, you would not have really known that there were any problems in the world as Phuket seemed to be in its own little bubble! Then things got real serious everywhere and you could not help but hear about what was going on and see people that were being effected by it all as we have people from all over the world training with us. Some couldn't come, lots couldn’t leave, some were going home early and then others were not concerned at all. We weren’t to start with, we were due to fly at the end of March, things didn’t seem too serious in the UK and we were thinking we would ride it out and go home as normal.
How wrong we were!
Firstly, around 10 days ago we had an email from our flight provider Gulf Air saying they were no longer flying and they would help find us new flights home. After some long waits on the phone we got help from their office in Bangkok who advised us to leave earlier as flights were being cancelled and with airlines shutting down. She managed to get us on a flight a week earlier on Emirates.
The next day she phoned and said Emirates would not take us (we now know they have stopped flying too so perhaps they knew that was coming even then) so she had put us on Oman Air but she also said that things were changing by the minute so to expect changes. We also arranged to fly to Bangkok as soon as possible so we could be near the big airport should we need or have to, fly out at short notice.
So all of a sudden my training camp had come to an end, my last 2 races had been cancelled anyways, a Olympic tri race in Thailand and the Tour de Bintan cycle race in Indonesia, so I, like everyone else, was training for no reason other than fitness and habit anyway!!
We arrived in Bangkok on Saturday night, the airports at both ends were so quiet, unlike anything I have seen in the usually chaotic thai airports. There were temperature checks and screening areas but not too much in the way of changes.
When we awoke the next morning it was to news that Bangkok was going into lockdown, only essential food supermarkets were to open and people were advised to stay in as there had been a ‘second wave’ of the outbreak. So that meant all the facilities in the hotel could not be used. I couldn’t use the gym and pool, WHAT!?!
It seems funny what you worry about when things happen and I had it in my head I would go to Bangkok enjoy being in a lovely hotel for the last few days of my travels, do some quality gym work, swim in the pool and forget about going back to work soon. And then thats taken away and it leaves you all out of sync!
Fitness and exercise is what keeps me sane and with a focus and purpose, which I'm sure most athletes would agree with, and suddenly I couldn’t do those. It seems stupid to worry about that with everything going on in the world and it annoyed me that it bothered me but it did and I have to be honest about that. But thats when the Thai hotel staff stepped in and brightened my day by showing me a route around the hotel grounds that would allow me to run safely and quietly away from the city streets. It was only about 500m through the car park and around their grounds but with them pointing the way and cheering me on, it was an amazing 500m that I will never forget. And every time I have gone down there to do my looping runs they have been encouraging and happy to see me running.
In any situation you have to make the most of it and look for positives, this is the situation we are all going to have to deal with for some time now so we have to adapt and work with what we have and be happy with that.
It also means I can work on areas that I know I neglect, stretching and body strength work. Despite my husband being a yoga teacher and doing his daily practice in the room everyday, I do not do enough of it so now is a good time to remedy that. Like he says, 10 minutes a day is better than nothing and a great place to start, so that is what I have done.
The sun salutations are a good warm up to your main activity or can just be a great start to the day. For me I feel about 110 when i start and can barely touch my toes when I bend over but that does not matter in the slightest. By the end you always feel better and more focused to get on with the rest of the day.
So today is supposed to be my last day in the hotel and we will fly early in the morning. Many more airlines have stopped flying and we have just found out we will be flying into a kind of locked down England. Unfortunately for me this means I will not be able to open my shop when I return home. I have a seasonal beach shop with ice cream kiosk that I run in the summer (hence why I travel in the winter) so my big opening for the Easter holidays will no longer happen. This leaves me feeling very nervous and anxious for what will happen to my family business but there are thousands and thousands of people out there in the exact same situation as me.
We have to get through this together, being positive and doing what we can to come through this as happy and healthy as possible. At times like this family, friends and loved ones and yours and their health are the number 1 priorities now. I am pleased to see we are still allowed to exercise outside and I think this is critical now more than ever. Getting out in the fresh air, getting those endorphins that exercise gives you, and having a fit healthy body is super important, but only doing so alone and away from others is also crucial. If you can not do that then then are a million ways to keep fit at home. I know my husband has had to close his yoga shala but has adapted and now put classes on you tube for people to follow at home, many other trainers have done the same with workouts, HIIT sessions, you name it you can follow it at home!! I think more cyclists than ever will be racking up the miles on the turbo, I know I will be jumping back on Zwift and catching up with friends and MX Endurance members from around the globe.
Just because you are in isolation does not mean you have to feel isolated, and chatting to like minded poeple on zwift whilst riding or running, or taking a group online yoga class is a great way to stay connected and talk to others about how you are coping and feeling.
Stay fit, healthy, positive and happy and we will get through this together and I believe come out as better people at the end. Is this the worlds way of making us stop, think and change the way we live and act. Maybe.