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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Matt Gervais: Staying Home, Staying Healthy

What was your main athletic focus prior to COVID-19 actions?

Prior to COVID-19 and the new restrictions, my main objective was a pretty heavy dose of long course racing this year, beginning with a couple Spring half marathons, a full marathon, then two 70.3 races to get me to July. This would also include some local criterium bike racing, and Michigan gravel racing with the Tower International Cycling Team. After that, Ironman Mont Tremblant in August would become the main focus. We had a pretty strong winter/indoor season, and really looked forward to getting away to Florida in March for some big miles outdoors to jump start the Spring training/racing season. We were fortunate enough that we still made it down to Florida, and actually got some big miles in, but of course no swimming. At that point, some of our registrations were threatened, but only a couple gravel races and one of the ½ marathons had been officially cancelled.

Understand you may not have a definitive competition schedule at the moment, how are you approaching your training now?

At this point I’ve for the most part assumed that no “A” racing will happen for me until at least the Ironman at the end of August, so I’ve abandoned any kind of “build” phase, and have gone back to a period of just attempting to increase fitness, and enjoy the training. Whenever I find someone with a late season “A” race, like end of the summer, or trying to focus on something in the Fall, I always recommend an earlier race to test the fitness and break up the season. This year, none of us are getting that early race! I think it’s going to be very important for people to scale their training, and plan to have some fun in this early season before getting too serious and assume they now just have a 6 month build to an “A” race in the Fall. This is what causes burn-out and injury. We are looking at maybe doing some solo, or indoor time trials around the time of our original “A” Spring races to help break it up. That means we will get to rest into the event, then recover out of it.

I’m also REALLY starting to love Zwift for what it is. A monster motivator to work hard when outdoors isn’t an option. I’m enjoying doing highly structured training, while knocking out some route badges, and even taking on some virtual racing, group rides and events.

What positives, if any, can you take from our situation with respect to your training and being best prepared for a return to competition?

As I said earlier, I think since we are kind of in an “unknown” period of limbo here, it will be pretty easy for people to become overtrained, or injured. This should be a time to focus on weaknesses, heal some injuries, and have a reset to a time where you can start to remember that you actually ENJOY training, and don’t necessarily need to have a race on the schedule to want to get out of bed in the morning. There is some possibility that there are NO major events going on for the general public this year. People have to just realize they WILL lose some swim fitness. If racing starts this weekend, you WON’T be ready. That’s fine. We are all in the same boat. I am doing my best to maintain some of my current fitness, work on some weaknesses, heal some overuse injuries, and enjoy my extra time at home!

How has your training benefitted your mental state as we Canadians maintain social distancing?

I most definitely am enjoying a little extra time with my family, but I think there are a few hours a day where we all benefit from having some time to ourselves as well. My wife and I are both enjoying taking some alone time in the basement on the treadmill or trainers to relax our minds, and get some solid work in. We’ve also been getting outside as well when we can. Mostly in the worst weather actually, so the trails are a little less crowded, but making sure to get out for walks twice a day as well. It has done us all some good! It’s also been pretty cool to get to ride and race “virtually” with a lot of my training partners and teammates, some of whom live in other parts of the country or world! Zwift has been a game changer.

Matt, we appreciate you taking time to share with us and others how you are approaching this most interesting time.

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada