In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.
1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?
I stopped training outdoors completely about a week before the Circuit Breaker was officially introduced, so I have had a while to get into a home-based routine. I have two young kids (3 & 5 years old) at home so I did not want to take any unnecessary risks by going outside, especially since all upcoming races are on hold.
30-45mins of exercise can go a long way to breaking up the monotony of being at home. All you need is a couple of resistance bands (or old bicycle inner tubes if you want to go really old school), swiss ball, some hand weights (or water bottles) and you are set. There are a ton of videos online you can follow.
While I may not be able to simulate a full training load at home, this downtime is an opportunity to work on aspects of my fitness I often neglect like core strength and flexibility. I have discovered that aside from swimming, biking and running, my fitness does not appear to extend to anything else. I started to add in HIIT workouts a few times a week to my training and I enjoy the variety.
2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?
Accepting that we might be in this situation for a while has helped me keep the stress away. When I look for solutions to training and keeping active, I have tried to come up with ideas that would be long term fixes. Rushing to squeeze in one last swim before all the swimming pools closed would have done me no good if the next time I manage to swim is months away.
The other thing I have found to be very important during this period is to manage my expectations. It is a real adjustment being at home 24/7. In the past, I would be very particular about the conditions surrounding my training. I like having things a certain way. Now, I try to be grateful that my family is healthy and I can actually continue to be active instead. I use resistance bands to do dryland swimming drills to maintain some muscle memory. While I have not been running, I have been doing more indoor cycling. Hopefully, this extra focus on cycling will benefit me when we get back to racing again while allowing me to hold on to some base fitness for running.
Technology has made it so easy to stay in touch. Pick up the phone and (video) call someone! More than ever, we need to know that even if we are on our own, we are not alone.
3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?
I have been vegan for over two years and my diet is plant-based. If anyone is considering reducing or cutting animal products out of your diet, my own experience is that it is a real boost to athletic performance and recovery.
During this circuit breaker, nutrition is going to take on even more importance given that most of us are not going to be able to be as active. The age-old advice still applies – eat in moderation, less processed food, less sugar and fried foods. It is not groundbreaking but it works.
I always fuel up before training. I struggle if I train on an empty stomach, although that might work for some. When it comes to training and nutrition, a one size fits all approach really does not exist. If it works for you, it is the right approach.
4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?
There is a website (and a film) called Forks Over Knives (https://www.forksoverknives.com/) that is a great resource. Challenge 22 (https://challenge22.com/) is also very informative. Many of my non-vegetarian/vegan friends have watched the Game Changers film and have been inspired to try a plant-based diet.
ABOUT WILLE LOO
Wille Loo is a Team Singapore Triathlete who represented the country at the Southeast Asian Games 2019.
His other achievements included being a 3-time SEA Games triathlete and the bronze medallist from the 2015 SEA Games.
Wille is also the captain and longest-serving member of the National Triathlon team.
Wille is a father of 2 and when he is not looking after his two kids and three dogs, he is a triathlon coach at http://trgracing.com.