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How Are Pro Triathletes Coping with Coronavirus?

It’s a testing time for everyone. Three top pros share how they're adjusting to event cancelations, training limitations, and more.

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With races being canceled all over the globe and outdoor training opportunities rapidly dwindling, caught up with a few top pro triathletes to find out how they’re coping and staying motivated during the CO-VID19 (coronavirus) pandemic. 

Linsey Corbin


pro triathletes coronavirus
Corbin at home. Photo: Chris Corbin

What’s your current training situation?

I think I am in the same boat as everyone else—all of our pools, gyms, restaurants, cafes and schools here in Bend, Oregon, are closed, and we are doing our best to practice social distancing. I am fortunate to have an at-home bike, trainer, and gym set-up (as well as a husband that I really like), so being stuck at home together isn’t too bad! I am also working through an injury (a stress reaction) at the moment, so I have just taken two weeks off of all training as a reset. I have recently been cleared to ease back into certain activities this week. 

How are you coping—physically, mentally, emotionally?!

I am handling this all right—way better than I would have handled it five years ago. I have been in the sport long enough to know that ‘this too shall pass’—both COVID-19 and being injured.

It helps to know we are all in the same boat—very few people are able to access swimming pools, we don’t know when the next race will be, and this is new territory that none of us has ever experienced before. I will say, endurance athletes are built to handle adversity, so in challenging times, I feel like this is our time to shine. 

Your top tip for other athletes?

I think we all share the same sentiments. We are all well-equipped to handle challenging situations in a race or training. What do you do? 

  • You focus on the present and take it one thing/day at a time. Don’t get too overwhelmed worrying about the past (you are not losing all that fitness!) or stressing about the future (when will we race next, will I be swim fit, will I race this year?). Past and present worry is just a waste of energy and creates unnecessary stress. 
  • We are all in this together. If it’s hard for you, it’s hard for everyone else. 
  • Take this “challenge” and turn it into an opportunity: a chance to connect with others (from afar), rewrite your script of what you want to achieve over the next few years,  try something new, maybe at-home strength training will become your new thing? Take the uncertainty and put your energy into reading a good book, making the recipe you’ve been eyeing or doing something nice for someone in need. 

What’s the go-to workout that you’re successfully and safely able to do right now? 

Sometimes the best workouts are no workouts! I have just taken two weeks of nothing and really have been focusing on healing, getting proper sleep, not stressing (stress impacts immunity and health), and eating nutrient-dense foods. 

You can’t undervalue a TRX suspension system and therabands. I will begin using both of those this week. I have also really gotten into yoga the last six months, so I plan on doing some online Zoom classes from our local studio. 

Meredith Kessler


Kessler finished third at Challenge Wanaka last month. Photo: Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka / Jemma Wells Photography

How is your training impacted at the moment?

There is no denying that my training habits have been altered, especially in the swim. It’s only been a few days that I haven’t swum and, of course, I miss the stillness the water can bring to the body and spirit. Since a lot of us triathletes often train solo and can also do a lot of our training indoors, it seems like business as usual in some respects. It is the beginning of spring here in Ohio, so I doubt we will be able to get into open water anytime soon, so swimming is definitely the most significant question mark at the moment. Thankfully, I do have stretch cords that the trusty Gerry Rodrigues taught us all long ago so I will absolutely be implementing a circuit involving those into the routine. I will also up my strength workouts these next few weeks and add a session or two to replace the swimming and make sure that I keep my core, hips, shoulders and glutes as engaged and activated as possible.  

It was fantastic to get to New Zealand this past month (Kessler placed second at Ironman New Zealand and third at Challenge Wanaka) and ride and run outside during their summer. I imagine, as temperatures warm up, I can slowly incorporate some outdoor activities here in Ohio as well, so I’m looking forward to that if it is possible.

How are you coping—physically, mentally, emotionally?

The world seemed to spiral into this understandable hysteria right when we got back from New Zealand, so this is all very new to my family and me. We are slowly trying to figure out what we can and can’t do, how to operate daily with our busy toddler and how to go about our professional business. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I do feel this still hasn’t settled in yet because of the hectic nature of life since our return. Once we are a few weeks in, we can better assess the situation.  

What I do strongly believe in is the power of gratitude and being thankful for what we already have, knowing that things can decline and unravel so quickly. As with any curveball in life, we treat this situation with the utmost respect, dignity, seriousness, and especially with positivity that everything ends—and this will too. I try not to let myself go down a tunnel of doom in thinking of all that could go wrong for so many in this turmoil and instead try to channel my energy to how things turn around for the better. In the meantime, I just want to do the right thing for humanity, whether that is to support small local businesses or stay home entirely. I just want everyone to stay safe—and stay strong—through it all.

Your top tips for other athletes?

Physical fitness and training for most triathletes becomes a way of life. To keep your immune system strong and healthy, you must continue to exercise, get proper nutrition, hydrate, and get good sleep; nothing has changed in how you maintain good health. You must find the time to move the heart even when the practice of ‘social distancing’ is in effect. Whether it is the flu, pneumonia, or the common cold, these diseases prey on the physically unfit. This is a great time to turn your habits around to a healthy lifestyle if it isn’t a part of your daily routine already.

What’s your go-to workout that you’re successfully and safely able to do right now?

Running and wrestling with Mak (Kessler’s son) can burn a lot of calories! Physically playing with your children, in this day and age of TV and video games, is an essential exercise for the parent as well as teaching your child the joys of active play.  Mak and I do ‘READY, SET, GO’ wind sprints in our driveway and backyard and I’m telling you—this little guy crushes me! 

While Mak is playing with his dinosaurs and trucks next to me, I will use that time to do a little 20-minute EMOM (every minute on the minute) of three exercises that don’t require any equipment. The three exercises are: five military push-ups, 10 hollow rocks, 15 air squats. As an example, if it takes me 47 seconds to do those three exercises, I’ll then rest for 13 seconds and then repeat for 20 minutes. Sometimes Mak joins in with me for a few! This is a fun one to do with your little ones, your loved one and/or your family at home.

Ben Hoffman


Hoffman at last November’s Ironman Florida race, where he finished second and earned a Kona spot. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

How is your training going?

We are in Tucson, Arizona, and pools started closing last week. We have a very good home gym with the ability to do all three sports without even leaving our house, so that is a small comfort. Between a Wahoo setup with Zwift, treadmill with the same, and a Master Spas swim spa, and all necessary weightlifting equipment, there are no excuses for not getting the work done.

How are you coping—physically, mentally, emotionally?

Overall, I do vacillate some day-to-day, but I have committed to just staying relaxed and doing what I can each day without allowing myself to be overwhelmed. In the big picture, we are much better off than many others, so I just try to stay positive and absorb whatever news comes each day without making any drastic decisions. I feel like my issues pale in comparison to others, so I try to remember that when I get frustrated or overwhelmed. I have my health, an awesome wife and baby, great sponsors, and the rest is up to me.

What’s your advice for other athletes?

This will sound like the most annoying and overused expression, but remain positive. There is absolutely nothing good that will come from taking a defeatist attitude or freaking out. Just stay grounded and do what you can with what you have where you are. Make good choices, be smart, stay focused. It’s actually quite simple. With time, we will all be back up and running, so look at this as an opportunity to work on a weakness, learn a new skill, or rest if needed.

What’s your go-to workout that you’re successfully and safely able to do right now?

Because I have the ability to do all three sports (and strength) in the comfort of our compound, and because I feel that the one weakness I have is top-end speed, I am doing very short “sprint” triathlons of five minutes HARD in each discipline with quick transitions, cycling through four to five rounds with five-minute recoveries. I jump in my Master Spas, run to the garage for a spin on Zwift, and then onto the treadmill to finish.

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