How the pandemic forced me to change my routine

Luke Howardon 18 February 2021
How the pandemic forced me to change my routine

An elite athlete explains the importance of routine and tells us how he rediscovered his rhythm after a tough year.

All of our lives have changed over the past year. Everyone’s daily routines instantly came to a halt, and many of them still seem distant to this day.

As an elite triathlete and student at the University of Stirling, a routine is something that I crave, and each lockdown has been a huge hurdle to overcome. If I don’t have a plan to stick to, things can pile up very quickly.

When the first lockdown began, I had mixed emotions. I had been training for months in my bid to qualify for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and, with pools shut, my routine felt sabotaged. I started sleeping in a lot more, as I didn’t even have university to get up for after our year was completed a month early.

Initially, I embraced the freedom; I felt alive. However, this quickly got out of hand. I’d gone from 05:30 starts, to regularly getting up after midday, and my nights were also getting later. This had to change.

I decided to make do with what I could; I could still cycle and run, so I decided to create a new routine. I started playing the guitar again, which is something I’d not had time for in ages. Trying to turn each lockdown into a good experience has proven worthwhile and kept me sane.

With sporting events possibly back on the cards soon, the future is looking a little brighter; as we edge closer to the end of another lockdown, I feel more driven than ever with the prospect of a new racing season and a return to normality. I’m already back in the pool, and university is back online which is good, despite the occasional technical issues.

Four top tips for a solid university routine

Now that my studies are back up and running, I thought I’d share four of the things that have helped me to recover my rhythm and make the most of university: 

1. See what’s on offer and get involved

This almost goes without saying but, to have a routine you need to have things to do. It’s important to put yourself out there as a student, with so many clubs and societies to choose from. It doesn’t have to be a sport or something you’re familiar with either. It’s a chance to make a new start, so why not reinvent yourself?

With all that said, if you do take things on build them into yourmake that routine from the start. It may seem tough to go with it at first but over time you will naturally stick to it automatically. 

2. Make time for sleep

Whether you are a student- athlete or not, sleep is crucial for both your mental and physical health.

You need around eight hours of sleep a night to function properly during the day. While you might not hit this target every night, getting as much rest as possible will help you reach your potential.

3. Don’t overcommit yourself

Be honest with yourself and make a plan that works for you. Your head of society will be wanting you to do as much as possible, so it’s important to make sure you’re not taking on too much. Keep yourself busy, but don’t overwork yourself.

4. Use your plan to stay motivated

Any athlete will tell you that consistency is key. Creating a schedule and establishing a routine can be a great motivator in itself, as it leaves you with something to look forward to each day.

What’s your routine? Join our panel today and let us know. You’ll get a free £10 Amazon voucher when you sign up.

Luke Howardon 18 February 2021