It’s been one heck of a year, to put it politely. The COVID-19 pandemic shook the world and pulled the carpet out from under our feet. All our plans, goals, normal daily routines were thrown to the wind before we could get our pants on. It’s taken us a while to get our balance back.
This is especially so for athletes who, like musicians and performers, no longer had events to train for and travel to. The race calendar was suddenly empty. Yet, somehow training had to go on. We’ve all had to pivot and find ways to stay inspired.
Suunto’s ambassadors all found ways to stay stoked this year, and continued to inspire others along the way. We caught up with some of them and asked what they’ve learned, and got nine timeless, and positive lessons all of us could do with.
Be like water
South African ultra runner Ryan Sandes had big plans for 2020, and they all went out the window. “It’s been really important to be fluid with life in general and with your training,” he says. “When I say fluid, I mean to be adaptive and move with the situation. It’s important to just make the best out of the current situation and find creative ways to mix up your training.”
Ryan mixed it up by running a 100 miler in and around his home in Cape Town during lockdown in April. The total course length was 110 m, and he did it about 1463 times. The total elevation gain totalled 6000 m. His neighbours thought he was crazy, and stayed up during the night to support him. Hit play on the video above to watch his mammoth home run!
Lucy Bartholomew published a plant-based cook book this year.
Focus on what you can control
This tip has been a big learning for Australian ultra runner Lucy Bartholomew this year. In July, a strict lockdown was imposed in Melbourne. Residents were only allowed out of their homes to exercise and to purchase essentials for no more than an hour a day, and could go no further than five kilometers from their homes. “It taught me to focus on the things I can control, like my effort and attitude and not overly stress and worry about what I can’t control,” she says.
Instead of stressing, she focused on cooking delicious food and creating and publishing a cookbook, called Sustain your Ability. “I think the act of cooking and nourishing our body has been highlighted over this period as we have had more time at home so it’s really cool to connect with people around that.”
Emelie Forsberg listens to her body, and knows when to push, and when to rest. © Kilian Jornet
Accept where you are at
It’s not surprising many of us lost motivation this year, especially early on. “I went through a struggle with motivation and then got it back and it was such joy!” mountain athlete Emelie Forsberg says. “Also becoming pregnant with our second child, I couldn't train because I was just too tired. So that has also been a mental challenge – trying to climb out of the hole of tiredness was interesting.”
The takeaway is it’s important not to judge yourself if your motivation is low. It’s natural for it to wax and wane, especially in a year like this. Rather than give yourself a hard time, observe it, and accept that’s where you are at now. You might just need to give yourself time to rest, recover, adapt and find new goals. It will come back.
Small goals make a difference
When everything we normally look forward to has been cancelled, it’s natural to feel rudderless for a while. That’s why it’s so important to find new goals to get a sense of direction and achievement.
“I set small goals every day, even as simple as ‘do a load of washing’ and saw that as a success and as an achievement,” Lucy says. “Sometimes we don’t give ourselves credit for just waking up and getting out of bed every day – that takes guts!”
The highlight of 2020 for Courtney was attempting an FKT on the 805 km Colorado Trail.
Run for the love of it
For US ultra runner Courtney Dauwalter, who thrives on racing, her daily goal was simply to get on the trails near her home everyday.
“I learned that I love training and running no matter if I have a race or not,” she says. “I loved getting out the door every day to explore our local trails even though I had no idea what I was preparing for.”
Greg Hill got his own garden going, and supported his neighbours to do the same. © Greg Hill
Care for your community
With lockdowns happening across the world, and our usual social circles are disrupted, many of us have rediscovered the importance of local, even micro local, communities. For skimo legend Greg Hill, supporting his local community gave him and his neighbours a new sense of purpose.
“I recognized the importance of community and how we really need to work together to weather this storm,” Greg says. “As an athlete with a voice, I used my voice to empower other ideas. I pivoted and started figuring out how to inspire people in other ways. We started a committee aimed at making Revelstoke more food secure. I brought in 100 trucks worth of soil to fill people’s gardens so we grow more food locally. It gave myself and others purpose while we were contained on our properties.”
Investing in strength pays dividends long term. © Graeme Murray / Red Bull Content Pool
Ryan Sandes and Lucy Bartholomew both spent much more time on strength and mobility training this year, and they say they feel better for it. Lucy also focused on recovering from an injury she ignored in 2019.
“Usually training takes me two to three hours and it was almost refreshing to accept that this is what it is and to instead limit it to an hour of power (remember Melbourne residents were permitted out of their home for only an hour a day),” Lucy says. “I think it made me more efficient and then I spent more time in my home gym doing more strength work and yoga, which has been so much fun and really rewarding.”
Family, good health, tasty food, fresh air – Emelie is grateful for the little things. © Kilian Jornet
Be grateful for what you have
Stuck indoors, and bombarded with bad news about the pandemic, it’s easy to overlook the positive. But for Emelie Forsberg this year has brought home to her how important it is to focus on all the wonderful things we have.
“I think this pandemic has made us appreciate the small things in life that we sometimes take for granted, and that we value even more now, like being with family and staying healthy,” she says.
Savour every hug
Remember back in 2019 when people were hugging and high fiving all over the place? Ah, such fond memories. All of our Suunto ambassadors are longing to reconnect to their sport communities when the worst of the pandemic is behind us.
“I will never take another hug from granted!” Lucy says.
Lead image: © Philipp Reiter