WE HAVE been locked up so long we have been craving to know how others have been working out in iso.
There is that competitive nature in athletes of all levels hungry to know rivals form and how to get better. This can be healthy but in iso can create a dangerous mindset.
At the least, Australian Institute of Sport's latest partnership signals a reminder to be kind to each other in a return to training and to keep checking in on teammates or training partners.
The AIS and National Eating Disorders Collaboration have teamed up to create support resources for recognising signs of body image and poor eating.Athletics Australia, in promoting the content, stated the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 alone would challenge the most resilient athletes.
Not knowing when competition or group training might resume has been a big mental health theme across all sporting fields.
Athletes have been training without a clear goal, and sport fundamentally relies on goals: trying your best; reaching a final; claiming a flag; etching out a era; or leaving a legacy.
There is the not knowing how others will emerge from iso: how fit or how sharp.
Social media has been an amazing iso tool to draw inspiration from elite athletes sharing their home-based training regimes. For the most part these photos and videos show an incredible resilience to keep moving and stay focused while adapting to the unexpected.
There has been great grassroots content too, most notably the fun from Rokewood-Corindhap led by senior coach Shaune Moloney, or the virtual imagined masters football matches.
At the same time, Athletics Australia is warning physical distancing, isolation, lack of usual support framework and disruption to training could negatively affect athletes' body image and eating behaviours.
This is not an isolated COVID-19 problem but one sport and health experts warn could be felt more acutely amid the pandemic.
This week as former AFL footballer Brock McLean detailed his own mental health battles including a struggle with bulimia. McLean spoke with News Limited about the story he had in his head at the end of his career of what weight coaches would expect from him for top performance.
He craved junk food amid a strict diet and his eating struggles evolved.
A University of Sydney report in 2016 found men made up 40 per cent of eating disorders and body image issues but were four times less likely to be diagnosed than women. The report looked at the struggles on aspiring young footballers to meet AFL standards and the expectations on players to maintain fitness on annual leave and breaks from their club.
While this might be the extreme, amid all the uncertainty there is a chance to really consider what we expect from ourselves and each other as we ease back into training at any level from this week.
Richmond AFL president and sports mental health advocate Peggy O'Neal says the tail of mental health issues realised in isolation were likely to linger with athletes a long time. Ms O'Neal, in speaking to an economic forum on Thursday, said the removal from routine and teams impacted big parts of our lives.
A rmodified return to training will be important for many players' social and mental health - but will undoubtedly take adjusting.
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