As we enter the festive period, we caught up with one of Team GB’s triathletes for Tokyo, Jess Learmonth, to find out what Christmas looks like for an athlete at the top of their sport.
“My training won’t really change too much for Christmas,” Learmonth said. “Normally I try and go away on a camp a couple of weeks before so that I can have a slightly easier week, but with us not being able to travel I’m just going to follow my normal training plan.
“Whether it falls on an easy week or a hard week for training I’ll go out for a run with my partner Jon on Christmas morning before enjoying the rest of the day. It’s a great time of year and I make sure that my training fits around all the things we want to do.”
Like for most people around the UK, Learmonth’s Christmas will look slightly different this year because of restrictions on meeting with people, but that won’t stop her enjoying the festivities.
“We don’t have specific traditions other than going for a run together,” she added. “But always make time to see family, even if it is online this year, and enjoy the food. I eat pretty much everything and I really enjoy it, but you can’t beat good gravy.
“It’s a day where I go mad because I love the food and love getting in the kitchen. I really indulge, especially with the stuffing and we normally have about four or five different types, but also pigs-in-blankets because we don’t have them throughout the rest of the year.
“I’m a keen baker and will be jumping in the kitchen to make some mince pies, the biggest issue this year is that we can’t see people as much so Jon and myself will have to eat everything I bake.”
Work Christmas parties have been online or put on hold because of Covid-19 and Learmonth’s Leeds training centre is no different.
“Every year everyone at the centre comes together for a big meal and everyone brings a different dish,” Learmonth added. “This year we’ve had to have it on Zoom, but at least we were able to keep the tradition going and see one another, as well as post out our secret Santa gifts to someone in the group.”
With 2021 bringing the rearranged Olympic Games, January will mark the start of Learmonth’s first Olympic year as well as the chance to build on her World Triathlon silver medal from 2019.
“The new year will see training start to ramp up again,” she said. “Obviously looking towards Tokyo and preparing for that, but also making sure that I’m ready for the World Triathlon Championship Series races beforehand.
“It’s uncertain as to what camps we’ll get to go on in 2021 because that’s something we’d normally do in the early part of the year, but once January hits I’ll start doing more sessions and training will get a bit more focussed after the Christmas and New Year break as we move closer to the start of the season.”