Blog: Stay focused in times of Corona

By Dieuwertje den Besten, March 25, 2020

It is 8 o’clock. I wake up to a nice sun beam touching my face. Despite its pleasantness, it feels odd. Normally a loud alarm would have woken me up hours before sunrise. I would be hurrying towards the train, while steering my bike and slurping oatmeal simultaneously. Instead, I am now sitting quietly at the table with a cup of tea, preparing myself for the first workout of the day.

Sport events cancelled

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, a lot has changed for us. We were in the final stage of the selection for our eight. We were all training very hard but had no indication of being on the right track, since we had never competed together yet. We are a diverse group. Some of us only just joined the team (including me). We are adventurous, willing to dedicate our lives to rowing, not knowing where it will lead us. However, even our adventurous spirits are not limitless. I must admit that we are challenged by everything that is changing since the outbreak.

The hardest lump to digest is that all international sports events are cancelled due to Corona, including the Olympic qualification regatta. For us, this means that the chances of qualifying for Tokyo are currently very small. Another big change is that all sports facilities had to close, including our own rowing centre. Just like everyone is working from home, we are now training at home.

Keep the spirits high

So here I am, drinking my cup of tea at the dining table. My ergometer (indoor rowing machine) has just been delivered and is waiting for me in the yard. I unlock my phone and read the motivational story sent by our coach, Diederik de Boorder, about transforming setbacks into your own advantages. To keep the spirits high, we send each other pre-workout selfies and wish each other luck. We all follow the same home training program. Today’s morning session is a high intensity one. With the right amount of optimism, I start the training.

After a few sprints on the ergometer, a burning feeling starts to flow through my legs. I want to quit, but I really must finish the session. This is the point where it is important to stay focussed. There is no coach supporting me, there are no teammates suffering with me. I am totally alone.

Back to inner circle

A few weeks ago, I learnt about the focus circles of Eberspächer. At this point, they help me get through the training. Thinking of the burning feeling, the lonely environment, or even the uncertainty of everything, all count as a distraction. I must get back to my inner circle, focus on the core of the task.

Image: Circles of Eberspächer

I try to listen to the rhythm of air blazing out of my rowing machine. With a bit of fantasy, it sounds just like the gentle rippling of water. I continue my training, now completely focussed again. When I am almost finished, I close my eyes. In my imagination, I am on the race course, sprinting towards the finish line. The sun is shining, our cox is yelling, huge crowds are cheering... Suddenly the imaginary support sounds very realistic. I open my eyes. My neighbours, who happen to be rowers too, are cheering! From their balcony they yell motivating words towards me. This helps a lot!

All together with distance

Next to the difficult ergometer sessions, training at home can also be a lot of fun. I do a lot of training sessions on my racing bike. I ride through the beautiful polders of the Netherlands, accompanied by my enthusiastic roommates. This gives me a lot of energy! The weight exercises are also a lot of fun, since my roommates and neighbours tend to join in while respecting the 1.5 meter distance rule. It gives us a sense of togetherness. We are, after all, in this situation together.

Enjoy life

By training at home, or by working from home, we can all fight Corona in our own way. The new antivirus measurements will most certainly affect the daily routines of many people’s lives, but it is for a greater cause. A few weeks ago, I could worry about the most stupid things. Right now, I am very aware of how lucky I was then, to be able to row, or even train together. I am therefore currently trying to enjoy everything that is still possible. We can still go outside and feel the sun, and above all: enjoy being healthy.