With nationals postponed, triathletes training for the future
March 31, 2020 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University triathlon second-year Head Coach Heather Gollnick had her men's and women's student-athletes prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually to peak at the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships, which were originally set for April 3-4 in Tempe, Ariz.
The Flames and Lady Flames had trained together off and on since late August using the Liberty Natatorium, the Liberty Indoor Track Complex, the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex, and on cycling routes around campus as well as in the indoor studio at the nearby Candlers Station Shopping Center.
"We train pretty much year-round, adding in some weight training in the winter months," Gollnick said. "They're swimming, biking, running, weight training right when school starts, when we have competitions right away, and then we go into a strength phase. They've really been training hard these last few months."
Unfortunately, the offseason came early with the national championships being postponed by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Liberty's triathletes are now forced to continue to practice swimming, cycling, and running on their own from home, or while practicing social distancing in small groups.
"Training can be hard at times, but overall it's a lot of fun," said graduate Mark Fairley, who was coming off a first-place finish in the Elite Development Race (EDR) at the March 6-7 Clermont (Fla.) Draft-Legal Challenge. "You get to switch it up. It's not just swimming every day, not just biking every day, not just running every day; you get to do all three and when you put them together in a race, that's when it's the most fun."
Fairley, a former cross country and track runner at a small college in Iowa, enjoyed a breakout season with the Flames as a newcomer to the sport, earning his triathlon pro card should he opt to use it.
"A big thing is just putting your trust in the training and what coach prescribes," Fairley said. "One thing Coach Heather (Gollnick) told me to do heading into this year is to take a complete off day and that has helped me to stay motivated throughout all three disciplines and on top of that being excited and finding fun ways to train and to get better."