Road to Tokyo 2021: Training and staying motivated under lockdown

staying motivated under lockdown
staying motivated under lockdown

A couple of months ago, we shared the first episode in the Road to Tokyo series as we followed our colleague Sadio Diallo’s journey to the next summer Olympics.

Since then, the Olympics have been postponed until next year, but the preparation for Sadio and thousands of athletes around the world continues.

We virtually met Sadio to find out how he continues his preparation and how he stays motivated while the world is living with lockdown restrictions, social distancing, and a global pandemic.

Routine from before

Before the lockdown, when our lives were normal, Sadio had a very tight and organized schedule. He trained twice a day, five times a week, all before and after his normal workday.

Back in March, Sadio would wake up at 4:30 am to get to his gym and start his daily routine of yoga and weight training. By 8 am, he was at his desk in the office, ready to start his job as a Subscription Renewal Specialist. After work, he would head to the training center an hour away.

At the training center, the length of the track training session depends on where in the preparation the athlete is. Just before the lockdown, Sadio’s training sessions would last just over 2 hours: a 40-minute warmup followed by an hour and a half training.

For most people, this schedule is almost impossible to follow. But Sadio confessed that he can successfully stick to it thanks to the great support and super organizing skills of his wife. She plans everything for him: when to wake up, what to eat and when to slow down.

Training with Social Distancing

Since March and the beginning of the lockdown and social distancing restrictions, Sadio’s schedule changed to adapt to our new reality. Nothing changed regarding what he needs to do, but he had to be creative to stick to his training.

All group training sessions were canceled until further notice so Sadio had to complete all the planned sessions by himself. He is part of a group of 5-10 athletes that his coach follows particularly during the lockdown. He talks with his coach at least once a day and they exchange texts before and during the different sessions that Sadio must do throughout the day.

New routine to adopt

Before lockdown, Sadio trained five days a week and had two days off. Right now, Sunday is his day of relaxation. His other workout sessions have also changed: instead of doing yoga four days a week, he is only doing two days out of seven. His routine mainly consists of exercising and stretching to warm up the body for the other parts of the training.

For the weight training sessions, Sadio had to buy some equipment which is making his family crazy as it’s scattered all over the apartment. As a result, he usually does the weight training on his balcony.

Next, there is running, which he practices in two different spaces: a track not far from his home accessible only very early in the morning and a park. All the running sessions are done in the early morning before the Arizona heat rolls around. The only positive thing from the lockdown is that he gets to wake up an hour later.

Sadio goes on the track two to three times a week to do the “usual” track training and start his training at 5:30 am to 6:00 am depending on what he must achieve. After his workday is over, he is ready for his weight session which usually takes place on his balcony. So far, no complaints have been registered from the neighbors for his balcony workout.

While in training, we also get to learn more about Sadio’s favorite athlete and his favorite quote. Surprisingly, even if Sadio adores track and has invested a lot of time, money, and sacrifice into it, we learned that his favorite sport is soccer and his sports hero is the French soccer player, Zinedine Zidane. When he feels his motivation falter, he always rereads his favorite quote from Vince Lombardi, a famous American football coach.

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

How being an athlete helps in the current situation

As we discussed the challenges and how he manages, Sadio told us that the one thing that helps him is being resilient and adaptable.

He explained how athletes, especially in the U.S., must learn this concept quickly. An athlete in college has access to the training facility, food, coach, medical staff. When he leaves college to become a professional athlete, he or she must quickly learn to be resilient and adaptable, otherwise, he is heading for failure as a professional athlete.

Very quickly the professional athlete is on his own and must be able to stay motivated and adapt to various situations. In track, as an individual sport, this is even more true. You are mostly on your own and your teammates are the people you train with but you don’t play with.

This concept helps you gain perspective and be able to deal with various personalities and always stay focused. Resiliency helps you adapt, and right now everyone needs to adapt to the situation we don’t understand or can anticipate.

The skills for being a track athlete easily translate to the corporate world. You need to be a team player even if everyone is accountable individually. You need to work with different people’s personalities, moods, and traits, just like when you train in the track field.

When you work as a team instead of working by yourself, you are not necessarily faster, but you always achieve more. And being part of a team in his current role is what Sadio enjoys. He also confessed that having the athlete experience has helped him have another outlook on different situations.

Stay tuned for our next episode of the Road to Tokyo series.

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