Athlete Stories: Lucy Hall

 

While sport brings us all plenty of #HIGH5moments, we know that the journey to get there can be challenging, but that’s what makes it great, right?!

In the last few weeks we’ve been showcasing real people’s stories behind their #HIGH5moment – the highs, the lows, the little things that make that HIGH5 worth it. Everyone finds committing to a challenge tough at times, even professional athletes! So this time we’ve been chatting to our HIGH5 athletes to find out what it is they find tough about training and preparing for big events.

Here Lucy Hall talks about dealing with injury and illness and what she’s learned from recovering from this…

Lucy Hall

My HIGH5 Moment:

Being more in tune with my body, knowing when I need to take a step back and understanding that that is OK!

The story behind my HIGH5 moment:

 I feel as if I’ve been very fortunate as a professional Triathlete. I’ve had few injuries and illnesses over the years, however, in 2017 I was continually bombarded with them.

2017 was one of the most turbulent years as an athlete , I endured many emotional highs and lows of racing. Amazingly I had my first ever full winter of training with no illnesses or injuries and then came away with my first World Cup win in Cape Town back in February. After that it was the start of a downward spiral. 

I raced the next month with fellow British athlete, Jess Learmonth in Las Palmas, we swam and biked as a two- up, like we did in Cape Town, however, this time I was feeling ‘off ‘ my game. A few days before flying out to Las Palmas I had picked up a tummy bug but decided to still race. I was struggling towards the back end of the race but finished 2nd.

Once back home I had time off training to try and reset before travelling to Asia. Again, I couldn’t shake the tummy bug which continued to linger for a while, so my training became disjointed and less often. I raced Yokohama WTS finishing 11th, it wasn’t a bad result but knew I had more to show, especially after my weeks of being ill. Unfortunately the illnesses continued. I missed crucial training sessions and night’s sleep which subsequently led me to pull out of racing Leeds Worlds Series and the European Championships.

Yet again I tried to reset in order to regain my performance before the back end of the racing season. I had a complete 10 days off training to rest my body and recover with the goal to be back to full health in time for Hamburg WTS. Leading into the event I had a full two weeks training with no interruptions and finished 14th in the individual and 4th in the relay.  

The rest of the year I was ‘flat’ in racing and training, struggling to find my top end speed. The more disappointing my performances were in sessions, the more frustrated I got with myself.

The rest of the year I was ‘flat’ in racing and training, struggling to find my top end speed. The more disappointing my performances were in sessions, the more frustrated I got with myself. After months battling with the same symptoms and not getting any better, combined with my performance tailing off, I knew something wasn’t right. 

I had kept training and pushed myself through viruses and illnesses I had picked up throughout the year. That combined with stress, lack of sleep and feeling ‘flat’ in training led the British triathlon sports doctors to diagnose me with over training/ chronic fatigue. As you can imagine this wasn’t the news I was hoping to hear but I was happy to have an answer.

The doctors told me I needed a more substantial period of time off than I had been allowing my body, this led me to take 2 whole months off from training. At the time this was devastating, I couldn’t remember a time where I didn’t train at least something for this amount of time but after some time I started to feel better. During this time I got involved with some sponsorship commitments in China, visited neglected friends and family and did non-sports related things like learning to knit! Once my 2 months were up, I began to reintroduce myself into training. The doctor’s orders were to do no more than 2 hours of low intensity exercise a day. It still sounds a lot compared to the average person, however, to an elite triathlete that trains on average 5 hours a day, it really wasn’t!

Persisting through this tough time definitely made me appreciate my body and health a lot more and I feel in a better position because of this.

Returning to light training is a great feeling, but it’s incredible how much you have to rein back your training volume in the early stages, this was a big challenge for me! The hardest part was training with others, and realising how much fitness I lost, getting back to good shape seemed a long way off. However small victories like completing a 30 minute run and riding outside for the first time made each day easier on the head and I felt stronger physically and mentally each day until I was back to optimum fitness! Persisting through this tough time definitely made me appreciate my body and health a lot more and I feel in a better position because of this.

Back to it now…

So what have I learnt? A lot. I’m much better at reading my own body, when I’m getting tired and when I just need to back off training all together. I realised the importance of sleep, and its massive benefits for recovery. This was so obvious during my illness, as the stress of just wanting to compete was overwhelming and therefore resulted in sleepless nights.

Since then, I’ve started to not put as much pressure on myself to smash each day, but instead have consistent months. Onwards and upwards!