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Fear, Injury & Pandemic Fuelled New Mindset For This Pro

There’s no denying the past year has been tough for most of us, especially when it comes to motivation to train. Searching for hours online for a decent set of dumbbells depleted most of that motivation, but what if training and competing was your lifeline?  

How do you keep yourself going then? 

This is the exact question Emelye Dwyer faced as her training centres closed and competitions were cancelled.  

It was such a big part of my life that it was almost what defined me as a person and then when you suddenly take that away, it was quite frightening to see what was laid bare without it.” 

Now the world is gradually reopening and competitions are back on, Emelye’s dedication is finally paying off, but after a year wracked with injuries and little support, it’s not been easy.  

Here’s what it’s like to be a pro athlete during a pandemic. 

 

“Motivation was at an all-time low” 

If you can learn anything about Emelye Dwyer from her Instagram, it’s that she’s got enough energy to rival 10 people on the strongest pre-workout, but that didn’t make training through lockdown easy. 

Training through lockdown, not really knowing when it was going to end and what was going to happen coming out the other side of it, motivation was at an all-time low.” 

When your life revolves around functional fitness, what do you do when you can’t coach or train? These are the kind of questions Emelye was faced with. 

“It was such a big part of my life that it was almost what defined me as a person and then when you suddenly take that away, it was quite frightening to see what was laid bare without it.” 

 

“You haven’t come this far to only get this far”

Despite the lack of motivation and reasons to train, Emelye knew she couldn’t let her work over the years be for nothing, so she found ways to keep going, from building a gym in her garden to building a strong mindset. 

“I thought to myself you haven’t come this far to only get this far. Are you the girl that got to a certain point, that came to face the pandemic and let it crush you? Or, do you want to look back at yourself in 5 years’ time and think, ‘I didn’t let anything stop me. I still fought through it.’” 

And she’s certainly not let it stop her. Now, through to the semi-finals of the most important event in her calendar, Emelye’s enjoying the return to normality, training, and (remote) competitions. 

 

“We still feel the fear” 

Since gyms have reopened and competitions restarted, Emelye’s realised what a difference training and competing with others again can make. 

“Just having someone from across the gym when they can see that you’re struggling go ‘Come on Em! You can do it!’ It’s the perfect antidote for when that internal voice starts telling you ‘Maybe you can’t do this.’”  

This has become especially important as her training has ramped up for the semi-finals, where technique and mindset are everything. 

“It starts to get a bit more technical and heavier further through the competition. I’m going to have to start really tightening up on my rest and recovery and nutrition.” 

Building this strong mindset has also meant overcoming exercises that have seriously injured her in the past.  

“No matter what level we’re at, we still feel the fear. It never ever gets or feels easier, you just get faster.” 

 

“Focus on the controllables”

So, what does she do when faced with this fear? She carries right on, of course. 

Following her most recent competition’s qualifying workout Emelye was left with some pretty awful injuries; she came close to giving up. 

“It wasn’t until a couple of hours before the deadline that it had to be in that we decided to just try and tick through it and go through it at a nice steady and slow pace and our score is our score.”  

And it was worth it. Emelye not only placed, but found it really wasn’t as bad as she remembered. This was the confidence boost she needed — after all, injury is a natural part of an elite athlete’s career. 

“Some injuries are completely debilitating and some of them are manageable so I’m trying to keep my head in the game with regards to that and not let it phase me too much.” 

Her advice when dealing with an injury? 

“One of the hardest things in elite sport is staying uninjured. Focus on the controllables and really work hard on them and then what will be will be.  The goal is always train hard, stay focused, don’t get injured.” 

 

Take home message

The pandemic has thrown motivation out of the window for most of us at some point over the last year, but we can certainly learn a lot about determination and dedication from athletes like Emelye. 

Whether it’s just getting up and doing a workout, training for a competition, or recovering from an injury, she’s proof that a strong mindset can go a long way. 

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Evangeline Howarth

Evangeline Howarth

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Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.

In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!

Find out more about Evie's experience here.


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