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Friday, May 1, 2020

Darcy Haggith: Staying Healthy, Staying Home

As many of you know, we have featured a bunch of our Team Infinit athletes over the last couple weeks, seeing how they were managing mentally and physically through this time we find ourselves in.  I thought I would share how I have been managing and how I am preparing to be my best when competition comes back into the fold.

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

My focus, prior to the COVID-19 actions, was getting back to a good state of bike fitness.  I lost a dear friend in November and frankly, it put me into a bit of a tailspin. I didn’t ride much at all for a couple of months and my diet… to put it into perspective, I cycled 13000 km in the first 10 months of 2019 and then a mere 500km in the last two.  During the Christmas break I looked at some family photos we we had taken - I hadn’t realized it until then, but I had really packed it on.  I guess going from 300 km/week on the bike down to next to nothing, along with eating carelessly, will have a dramatic impact.  In the New Year my wife and I headed off to Australia and New Zealand for some work and play. For the first time in ages, I travelled without my bike. With no bike but plenty of good craft beers and great food, even with regular, incredibly vigorous hikes, I made no progress to getting back to my fighting weight.

A month later, as soon as I was back in North America - literally, I started riding again.  Actually, it was before I even got home. I rented a bike in LA during a long layover.  From that time on, I was back on track, averaging close to 300 km per week again. For me, when I train well, my diet comes right back - I think of food as fuel for biking. 

My goal (other than getting below 180 lbs again) was to be ready for a 24 hr tag-team mountain bike race at Albion Hills with my friend Matt.  Right now, my legs are ready, but the race has been canceled.

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

My training at the moment is all about improving my fitness level.  I have been immersed in the Zwift community.  I completed 6 weeks of FTP interval work and most recently our ESR (East Side Riders) bike group has been virtually coming together Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It's great to ride with my friends, and at least on some level, feel the connection. I will continue to push hard inside on Zwift and outside as the weather continues to improve.  My thought is, the stronger my bike fitness, the more opportunities I will have with respect to competitions or long randonneur type rides - even virtual ones.

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

Typically I build fitness from December through to March on the trainer through various Zwift rides.  Honestly, for the last 2 years, I have been the fittest in April when coming off of my indoor riding, so this year with the indoor season extended, I am more fit than the previous 2 years.  I am 52, so I love that we can continue to get stronger and more fit as we age healthily!  I will hold on to my indoor rides (likely 2-3 a week) during the whole season, so I can continue to build and take on whatever presents itself.  Last night I decided I to ride Alpe Du Zwift to see where I was at fitness-wise.  I managed to crack the <1 hour mark for the climb, averaging 260 watts.  Comparing this to February 2019 - I shaved off more than 3 minutes and managed to generate 37 more watts on average.  I did wear a heart rate monitor last night, and my average heart rate was 147.  It will be good to see if I can lower that a couple beats and match the same power in a couple of months. 

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

I can say unequivocally that my daily bikes and pushing my fitness has been my saviour as we have social distanced.  Managing the business, pivoting so we can maintain a breakeven level until we get to the other side, being there for our employees - making sure they are meaningfully employed, all while being a good husband, dad and friend has pushed me to the limit.  It has been a challenge.  When I hop on the bike, it is all about the bike - nothing else matters for the 1, 2, 3 hours…whatever.  It has been a great respite and a key part of actually enjoying the challenges that have been thrown our way.

I look forward to the new normal, but I will be certain to take the lessons I have learned adapting to our current situation and add them to my ever-expanding toolbox.



- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada