March 19, 2020

How to Self-Isolate like a Boss

Triathletes are notoriously bad at sitting still. Here’s how you can win at a 14-day self-isolation.

Text by: Ellen Pennock

I was supposed to race the ITU Sarasota Continental Cup last weekend. But, #coronavirus. Instead, the race was cancelled, I changed my flights to return to Canada right away and came back to my empty apartment to self-isolate for 14 days.

For someone who is used to nonstop busyness, 14 days confined to the walls of my apartment was daunting. But now, six days in, I’m honestly having a great time.

Here’s the thing. So many of us (especially triathletes), are addicted to busyness. But this unprecedented time in history demands that we take unprecedented measures. Maybe it’s ironic, because all this means is that we must stay home.

If you too are currently in self-isolation, I’ll encourage you to see the opportunities that lie in spending 14 days alone. People pay hundreds of dollars to go on retreats in the woods. But I’m telling you that you can have your own retreat in the comfort of your own home FOR FREE.

Here are 10 ways to absolutely crush 14 days in self-isolation:

1.Take a mini staycation.

On the first day of my self-isolation, I drank three cappuccinos, had a bubble bath in the middle of the day and cracked open a bottle of wine. Talk about living my best self-isolation life.

2. …Then get back into a routine.

I do have Feisty work to do, however. And let’s just say I was pretty unproductive in the first three days despite having way more time than usual. For day four, I set an alarm, dressed in real clothes and wrote a schedule for the day.

3. FaceTime all your friends.

Check in with your other friends in self-isolation. Call your mom. Ask to talk to the family dog. Call your friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.

4. Keep training.

At this time where I live, it’s ok to go out for solo runs and bikes as long as you don’t come into contact with anyone and you’re asymptomatic. Check with your regional health advisories for what you can and cannot do under self-isolation. As for swimming, you can use stretch cords to mimic your swim stroke. Do what you have to do to stay sane, even if that means bicep curling milk jugs.

5. Bake sh*t.

Now is time to finally try all those recipes on your Pinterest board.

6. Do that chore you’ve been putting off for months.

It will probably take you 20 minutes max.

7. Clean your counters every day.

Things feel a bit out of control right now, but for some reason having clean kitchen counters makes me feel I still have some self-efficacy. Plus it pays to be extra hygienic these days.

8. Make a 14-day journal of your self-isolation.

There are going to be highs and lows. You might experience emotions ranging from boredom, sadness, joy, and loneliness to a full-blown spiritual awakening. Keeping track of your daily activities and emotions gives you something to do and a little memorabilia to look back on.  

9. Day dream.

The best ideas often come to us when we give ourselves the time and space to get lost in our own thoughts. I’m most creative when I have extended periods of time alone. Think of all the brilliant ideas you’ll have after 14-days of uninterrupted solitude.

10. Listen to some podcasts.

I hear the IronWomen and If We Were Riding podcasts are excellent.

*BONUS*: Make a TikTok.

Personally, I haven’t quite got to the point where I’m confident (or bored?) enough to make a solo TikTok. But I still have 8 days left…


The current global situation is bigger than triathlon. I am urging you to let go of your “I-haven’t-swam-in-5-days” anxious energy, get resourceful in your training and realize we have a responsibility to our communities. We can save lives by simply staying home, practicing social distancing and keeping good hygiene.

And what happens after 14 days? I have this imaginary finish line in my head that might not exist at the moment. The thing is we actually don’t know how long this is going to last for.

In all this uncertainty, there is an opportunity to learn how to stay in the moment. And this is a useful tool once we can get back to triathlon racing. In the meantime, stay home, soak in some recovery and keep training. You might learn you’re actually pretty fun to hang out with.

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