Training for Triathlon Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As states begin to re-open in multiple staggered phases, athletes across the country are itching to get back to their regular training routines - but before doing so, there are a few safety precautions every athlete should consider.
As athletes strive to get back to their pre-coronavirus routines, more and more are realizing there are some new adjustments we will all have to make to get back to training as usual. Two questions at the front of athletes’ minds are: 1) can we start training in groups again? And 2) what precautions should we be taking to make sure we are training safely?
Since there has been a lot of information floating around on what, how and when it is safe to train for swim, bike and run, we are breaking down the most critical safety protocols to consider when training in each discipline.
With pools re-opening after a 3+ month closure in most states, triathletes are quickly realizing there is a lot of work to be done on their swim fitness (trust me, we are in the same boat). But since public swim facilities are triathletes’ main training grounds, it is imperative to consider how to be most cautious when entering these public areas.
Since public pools are chlorinated, the water isn’t where the risk of infection lies. Although it may travel in the water, the chlorine will inactivate the virus, making your risk of infection from pool water very small.
What you should worry about, however, is the public spaces associated with the facility - the locker room, pool deck, and any other shared spaces where social distancing can be difficult. Experts recommend wearing masks, washing hands regularly, and practicing physical distancing wherever possible.
Despite much controversy over a recently released study suggesting that outdoor activities, even in small groups, could be a breeding ground for spreading the coronavirus, more and more evidence suggests outdoor activity is in fact one of the least likely places the virus will spread.
Though you shouldn’t be riding in large groups quite yet, riding with one to three individuals you trust is likely okay. Consider staggering your riding position (i.e. do not ride in a single file line) to reduce the risk of airborne respiratory particles traveling into your path and avoid physical contact with group members that are not a part of your household, if possible.
A few other things to evaluate, both when considering cycling or running with a small group, are the level of community spread in your area, whether or not you are healthy, and what precautions the other group members are taking to avoid contact with the virus. In considering all of these factors, you significantly reduce your risk for contracting or spreading the virus.
Much like cycling, an increasing amount of data has demonstrated that the contractibility of the virus while running outdoors is low. Running outside, especially on your own, is actually touted as a potential benefit in many ways - moving your body and getting some sun can help boost your immune system.
However, much like with swimming, if you are running in a place where physical distancing will be difficult, many experts have recommended wearing a face covering (i.e. a Buff or cloth mask) to avoid the transmission of respiratory droplets. And, if you decide to run in a small group, consider the same recommendations listed above for cycling - staggering your running position, avoiding physical contact, assessing the risks associated with the group you choose, and washing your hands regularly.
As we all transition back into our training routines, it is important we also transition into what is going to be the ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable future. By wearing masks, continuing to practice good personal hygiene, and only training solo or with small groups of people, we help reduce the spread of the virus and also move closer to having races on the schedule again!
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