An Olympian Shares Her Quarantine Running Tricks


And why quality sleep’s a vital part of her wellness routine

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021, gold-winning triathlete and Sleep Number ambassador Gwen Jorgensen has plenty of time to focus on training. And the transition hasn’t been too hard: She’s grateful for more quality time with her husband and two-year-old son, and has a few wellness tricks (like a great bedtime routine and ways to run safely) that are helping her through this. She explains what’s helping her stay fit and ready for the next chapter.

Wake-Up Call: First things first, your family is all at home. How are you holding up?

Gwen Jorgensen: My husband is normally a stay-at-home dad and so he’s really liking me being home. I’ve been able to spend more time with my son Stanley, who’s two-years-old. When I do need to get work done, he jumps right into his stay-at-home dad role. I’ve actually found the transition kind of nice — which I think is unusual.

I think the hardest part has been explaining what’s going on to my son. He knows where all the parks are in the neighborhood and we’ll take walks there. But we have to explain to him that he can’t go on the equipment. And he doesn’t understand why he can’t go to his friend’s house across the street. I tried to explain: Do you know what getting sick is? And he kind of knows, but he’s never been super sick. So that’s been a little bit of a struggle.

As an extremely avid runner, have you been able to still run during this time? Or is there anything else you’re doing to stay fit?

I am still able to get outdoors and run. I’ve found that I don’t like going on bike paths or running paths because they’ve been really crowded. The thing that’s worked for me is just running in the neighborhoods. There aren’t a lot of cars out, and if I see somebody coming, I can cross the street pretty easily.

I also have a treadmill in my house. I have a virtual reality running program where you kind of run with others, called Zwift. I hosted a run last night where 50 people came and ran with me in this virtual world.

It’s been fun to try different methods of running. That’s not to say it hasn’t been difficult. There was one day I showed up at the track, and it was closed, so I wasn’t able to do a workout that I wanted to do. But I feel really fortunate that I’m not in a team sport, or in a sport where I need a swimming pool or, something like that, where it could be extremely difficult to continue to train during this time.

We know that you’ve been tracking your sleep and fitness. Are you still able to track during this time or is it a little bit more difficult when we all have kind of irregular schedules?

I found that keeping my routine and keeping a schedule has been super vital in just my happiness.

When everything shut down, during that first week I realized I wasn’t going to be able to meet my team and do workouts like normal. My sleep was for sure affected. I could see on my Sleep IQ app from Sleep Number that my resting heart rate was up. I was more restless, but it took me a week to adjust and accept the changes. I like having control and I needed to accept that I can’t control everything.

I’ve continued to track my sleep and I’ve found that I have the best quality sleep when I keep my routine. I still put Stanley down at 8:30, and then I fall asleep before 9:30 p.m. every night. I try to keep my bedtime and waking up habits the same. I am a creature of habit, and I like routine. I find that it gives me some peace of mind, which allows me to get better sleep, which allows me to be a happier person.

What else do you do at night? Have you been trying to eliminate your nighttime news consumption at all?

Yeah, I definitely don’t listen to the news before going to bed. Actually, like a week before all this happened, in late February, my husband and I decided to get rid of our T.V. in our living room. And then this all happened and we said, “Oh no, we need the T.V. for entertainment, for family, and just like to see what’s happening in the news.”

We still have a T.V. in our bedroom and we use that more just to decompress. So I put Stanley to bed at eight and he’s so great — I just read him one story, leave, and he falls asleep by himself. From eight to nine, my husband and I watch T.V. or read a book that keeps us distracted. Every night, I make sure the lights are out and my eyes are closed by 9:30. Even if I’m not tired, I’m at least laying in bed with my eyes closed, trying to go to bed.

You’ve mentioned that you’ve been running on a treadmill at home and then you’ve also been running in your neighborhood. Do you have any tips for people who might not have the treadmill at home, but want to do some at-home exercises to stay active?

Yeah, of course. I actually have a YouTube channel. I have two or three videos of home gym routines. One of them I just posted maybe like two weeks ago. I like to workout at my home gym, but I don’t have a huge array of products — so some of my workouts don’t even require any equipment.

There are apps, gyms, and other athletes doing free online workout courses at home. I like following along a workout — I think it allows me to stay motivated because it’s so much easier when somebody else is telling me what to do.

For other people, it’s important to just stay active. If you don’t feel like exercising, just try to go for a walk, dance around your living room or just do something for 30 minutes every day. I do think that it boosts our energy and it also helps us sleep better, which helps us feel better.

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