With England in a second lockdown, GB rower Beccy Muzerie explores her approach to the new level of risk
The current question flying around the GB athletes is whether we want to ‘opt-in’ to going on training camp.
In a pre-COVID world, going on camp was considered one of the great privileges of athlete life, and rarely would you stop to consider whether you wanted to go. But no more.
There is an army of procedures prepared to help mitigate any risks of travel and training abroad, but there is still a risk and we each need to consider our personal circumstance to decide if it is worth it.
It’s not just rowing. This cost versus benefit analysis has become part of everyone’s daily lives. I take a risk to see a friend because it’s good for my mental health, but mitigate against this by putting the layers on to meet outside and air hugging.
I can no longer just pop to the shop mid-afternoon when a TV advert suddenly has me craving Ben and Jerry’s, but instead raid the cupboards to find a forgotten bag of Maltesers that will make do until the next weekly shop.
It is often subconscious, but even walking down the street I am analysing whether to cross over the road to avoid the mask-less person strolling towards us.
“One of the greatest bits of advice I was given by Fran Houghton was to make decisions that allow me to ‘be the best version of you’”
To some extent as athletes we have always lived like this. Rowing isn’t just a nine to five job, but a lifestyle where performance is affected by how much energy we use outside of training. If we are invited to a friend’s birthday drinks, we consider how late to bed it would make us and what else is on the programme and in our diaries that week.
For some of us, a night of seeing friends and switching off from the rowing world might put us in a better head space and enhance our performance. For others, getting the extra sleep and arranging to see the friend for coffee another day would have the same effect. There isn’t a one size fits all rule. It’s a constant cost vs. benefit analysis.
There have been times in my rowing journey where I have had to make big decisions such as whether to move clubs, whether to give up my career for full-time rowing and even whether to get married.
One of the greatest bits of advice I was given by Fran Houghton was to make decisions that allow me to ‘be the best version of you’. I have found this so helpful when thinking about what to do. I need to know myself; what helps me relax, what gets me in a good mood and in the right headspace to perform. I can then make decisions based that allow me to be my best, so long as there isn’t a negative effect on my teammates.
So yes, it is a new thing for us as athletes to have to decide to opt-in or opt-out of camp. And more than ever we are all being faced with daily decisions that have an element of risk to them.
Like you, all I can do is put any precautions in place to minimise that risk, think about the effect of a decision on those around us, and ultimately decide what will help me be the best version of me.
Photo: Nick Middleton