2020 was a big year for, well, everyone. But for multiple Olympic gold medalist and multiple world championship winner Lisa Carrington, it was a complete change to what she had spent weeks, months and years working towards – The 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The news that the Olympics would have to be postponed due to the pandemic came just a day apart from the news we, here in NZ, we’re heading into lockdown.
It was tough news for Lisa to hear. “I was actually really disappointed,” she says. “I was so ready to perform this year, I was so to run at whatever challenge was ahead of me really hard.”
But, her anger and disappointment quickly changed to a different mindset and she instead began thinking, ‘how can I use this to my advantage?’
We caught up with Lisa – who is also a Southern Cross BeingWell ambassador about 2020, the road ahead of her, the Olympics and how she stays mentally and physically strong.
How are you today, Lisa?
I’m great! I have just finished a training session and just refueling up with a berry smoothie.
Fab! Now, obviously 2020 was a completely different year to what anyone could have possibly predicted – for you, it must have been a massive spanner in the works when the Olympics were postponed. What were your biggest struggles in 2020 and how did you get through the crazy year?
The challenges this year were mainly based around what it meant now that the Olympics was postponed. How do I reframe my journey to the Olympics? The timeline had been moved but the challenge was the same. I had to remind myself of what was important, and what was normal. And what was normal for me was training and striving to be better every day. So I held tight to those things to help me navigate the year.
It’s a massive shift to prepare for – both physically and mentally. Do you find one side of those preparations easier to deal with than the other?
I believe that the physical and mental side of things are so closely intertwined it is hard to say one is harder than the other. For me, mental training needs to be as important, or more, than physical training. The body will always have boundaries, but it is the mind that can take me beyond where I think I can physically go.
How did you spend the lockdown period?
I spent lockdown following my normal training schedule. However, without meeting friends for coffee or getting physio I had more time to rest which included baking, gardening and painting my house!
Were there any specific TV shows, books or podcasts that you got hooked on?
I got into I Am Pilgrim, which was a big read but a great thriller.
What did you learn from 2020?
What I learnt from 2020 is how my normal everyday job can be changed in a second. Nothing is resolute other than the values and principles we stand by.
I’ve also discovered how much technology has helped me ride the wave of COVID-19. During lockdown I was able to continue workouts at home thanks to Zoom sessions with my coaches. I have also embraced virtual consultations for when I need to see a GP. I discovered CareHQ which lets me have an appointment from the comfort of my home, car or if I’m away for a race. It definitely helps to free up my time when I so often feel like I don’t have any spare!
How did you find balance?
I found balance by forcing myself to make sure I knew what was most important to me and catering to those every day or every week. These things are keeping good connections with people, being planned, finding joy in the task, looking after myself, and always learning and finding challenge.
Yours is discipline that has the potential to at times feel quite lonely? How to you deal with that?
I think we can all feel like we are alone in our challenges, but I have such great support and friends that I need to remind myself that connection is about sharing and asking for help when I need it.
Where are you now at with your journey to the Olympics and how are you feeling about it?
At the moment I feel like I have been working hard for a long time, and I am eager to show my hard work! I am at a point where it is becoming scary and very real that the Olympics are getting closer.
It’s obviously a blow hearing about the K1 200m – your specialist event – being axed from the 2024 Games. Does this change your mental preparation for the next cycle ahead?
It is a huge disappointment but what it does do is inspire me to stand up for what is most important for my sport and other athletes. Unfortunately we have no say in these decisions which is challenging. But again I am inspired to support my community to make sure the best decisions will be made in the future.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received or picked up?
If something scares you, be curious about the why, and maybe it is something you should do.
How do you feel about being a role model for young women – not just as someone to aspire to for your talent and accomplishments, but for your physical strength?
It is amazing that the work I put in can inspire people – it’s special.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2021?
I hope that this year I am continually loving what I do and stepping up to the challenge to whatever 2021 will throw at me. I also hope that I get a bit more organised.