Athletes’ Rest and Recovery in Pandemic Enhances Performance

Ryan Crouser, the 2016 Olympic shot-put champion, anticipated to defend his gold medal in Tokyo this summer time. He didn’t count on to enter bass-fishing tournaments to stoke aggressive fires doused by a coronavirus pandemic.

“Finished in the money three of the last four tournaments,” Crouser, 27, who lives in Fayetteville, Ark., mentioned in a phone interview. “Been on a bit of a hot streak. It’s helped me from going a little crazy.”

Track and subject, like many different Olympic sports activities, misplaced its main showcase with the postponement of this yr’s Tokyo Games. But for a lot of athletes, that wasn’t the worst of it. The annual worldwide circuit for dozens of sports activities additionally had been disrupted, with journey restricted and meets and competitions delayed or canceled. Some athletes, their motivation sagging, determined to throw in the towel and resume critical coaching once more in the autumn in preparation for the Games subsequent summer time, in the event that they occur.

But not everybody.

On July 18, after driving 10 hours to compete in one of many uncommon monitor meets held this summer time, Crouser unleashed one of the best throw of his life — 75 feet 2 inches, or 22.91 meters — which tied for the fourth-best throw of all time.

In a normal year, Crouser, who is 6 feet 7 inches and weighs 310 pounds, would have been on the road from January to September, traveling to compete nationally and internationally. With his ability to travel all but halted by the pandemic, gyms closed, track facilities off limits and rehab therapists unavailable, Crouser mostly remained at home, ad-libbing. He said he has not missed a day of scheduled training, expanding his foundational workouts to six months from the usual six to eight weeks.

He kept waking up at the same time, and continued to eat his four meals and snacks totaling about 5,000 calories every day, as usual. He built a throwing ring out of plywood. He lifted weights in his garage. He hurled a medicine ball against the cement base of a bridge. He even did his own physical therapy, using a tennis ball, a lacrosse ball and a foam roller.

“The quarantine has been such a mental battle to stay engaged,” Crouser said. “Training is the highlight of your day to break the monotony. That’s what’s keeping you sane.”

“You just feel so much better,” she said about the extra sleep, “and you don’t get as sore.”

After her record throw, which went viral in track and field circles for its strength, balletic grace and technique, Allman, a former dancer, faced another challenge. She needed to be tested for performance-enhancing drugs within 24 hours for her American record to be ratified — and to pre-empt suspicion at a time when antidoping operations have been reduced during the pandemic.

Racing the clock, Allman and her coach found an accredited doping control officer to administer the test. They drove four hours to Hermiston, Ore., where Allman produced a urine sample in a gas station restroom.

“It felt kind of sketchy,” Allman said with a laugh, “but we wanted to prove that all of our hard work had been legitimate.”

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