Olympian Ryan Gregson: How to stay positive during setbacks

If you’re feeling sorry for yourself during COVID-19 (I’m guilty as charged), then spare a thought for Olympian and local Bulli legend Ryan Gregson. Ryan competes in gruelling middle-distance running. He’s the current Australian 1500 m record holder. If you’ve never watched the event, it’s like a 400-metre sprint that doesn’t end. Impressive but punishing stuff.

It takes a winner’s mentality to be an Olympian. We got in touch with Ryan to catch up about his Coronavirus limbo with the not-so subtle-aim of picking up any tips we could on mental strength.

How have you been during COVID-19?

Overall, I have been doing well. Thankfully I am healthy, my family is healthy, and other than a postponed Olympics, I am one of the lucky ones throughout this period.

Where are you currently located during this period?

Forster, NSW.

How has your training changed?

I have been running alone or with my wife, instead of training with a group. I have also had to make do with what I have at home for gym training, getting creative in regards to lifting heavy weights. All in all, I’ve been very lucky though as we are still able to exercise outside and running doesn’t require any facilities other than open space.

How are you staying in shape? Both physically and mentally.

Physically, I’ve been staying in shape by running every day. It’s essential for me to do this so I am ready to compete once restrictions are lifted. Running also provides me with a great outlet to let out any frustrations and a way that I can make sure I’m moving forward with my fitness in a world where most things are at a stand-still. Mentally, I’ve spent some quality time with my wife and family, something that I haven’t been able to do in a very long time as I travel so much with my sport. This has been a silver lining throughout this whole process. I’ve also been staying mentally motivated by the goal I have to be ready to compete at my best once racing starts back up. I have also taken on more subjects at university so I will finish my degree this year, something that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the spare time I have due to COVID-19. Another silver lining!

What is one thing you are missing?

I had a quiet birthday during lockdown so I wouldn’t have minded celebrating that properly with family and friends.

Now that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics moved to 2021, how does this change things for you?

I’m hoping the postponement won’t change too much. I see it as that time has been put on pause and we have an extra year to prepare. I will be aiming to turn the postponement into a positive.

What are you doing to remain positive?

For me, I’m blessed that I’m healthy and that I’m still able to work on my fitness and move forward. Sure, the competitions have been taken away for the foreseeable future, but that won’t be forever and I’m just excited to make the most of opportunities when they start back up again.

Quick questions

  • What are you watching on TV?
    ‘The Last Dance’ and ‘The Fall’ on Netflix.
  • At home or outdoor workouts?
  • Coffee or tea?
  • Trackies or dressing up?
  • Takeaway or cooking nights?
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