Athletes: How to Use Lockdown to your Advantage

May 24, 2021

Have you ever wished you had a little more time to do a task? A uni assignment, a work task or maybe something as simple as painting the fence out the front of the house? Now think of your development as an athlete. Have you ever wished you had a little more time to work on a certain aspect of your game before starting the season? Well, here we have it. Use lockdown as that time!

With training paused in the majority of team-based sports across the Country, now is a key opportunity to tackle an off-field behaviour you have always wanted to nail down. Whether this is focussing on your sleep patterns, considering your recovery practices or working on nutritional habits- your own individual challenge will be personal to you. But remember, keep it simple to start. All too often we try to make too many performance/lifestyle changes all in one go and then struggle to stick to them in the longer term. How can you make these changes sustainable? My advice: take it one step at a time!

From a nutrition perspective, now is a great opportunity to optimise a dietary habit you have always wanted to ‘get around to’ in anticipation for return to training. This could be as simple as having one additional piece of fruit per day or starting your day with a substantial breakfast- we don’t have to overcomplicate it. By taking the time to address these small habits now, these will likely become routine by the time you return to training, taking the pressure off when things begin to get a little more hectic. So, how can we work towards turning a one-off behaviour into a daily habit?

Consider what area of nutrition you want to target.

e.g. increasing daily fruit and vegetable intake.

Consider why this habit is important and how it will impact health and/or performance (as we require motivation to stimulate change)?

e.g. support immune function, and overall health and development, therefore enhancing ability to train and perform.

Think about how you are going to implement this on a daily basis?

e.g. fill up your plate at each meal time with lots of colour, include a variety of soups and fruit smoothies in your daily routine and go for seasonal options to keep it exciting.

Consider the challenges of reaching this target and come up with viable solutions to overcome these.

e.g. Challenge- a hectic daily routine prevents me reaching at least 5 portions of fruit or veg per day.

Solution- pre plan your day the night before, packing pieces of fruit/veg for snacks, adding at least one vegetable option to your lunch and choosing a variety to make things more exciting and flavoursome.

Keep it consistent- habits are formed from consistent behaviours, so make a conscious to meet this target on a daily basis.

Why not use the above as a guide to tackle your personal nutritional aim over the next few weeks? When you have been able to consistently incorporate this aim into your daily routine, then you can start to think about your next ‘work on’. Remember: simply one change over time equals big results, so don’t overwhelm yourself.