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One Paralympian Embracing the Change to His Training Schedule

Travis Gaertner was training hard to make it to the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo in handcycling. Then, the pandemic happened, and the games were pushed to 2021. His initial reaction was disappointment, but like any elite athlete, he refocused on 2021 and embraced the change in schedule and the change to revamp his training.

How has your training been altered due to COVID and essentially adding another year of prep for Tokyo?

A lot of hard work and sacrifice has gone into becoming my best for Tokyo 2020. I felt ready and my competitive drive was as strong as it’s ever been. When we found out, I decided to take a three-week mental break from the formality of training, which meant I stopped doing high-intensity interval training for a while.

During that period, I fed my competitive drive by doing a lot of virtual racing against regular able-bodied cyclists. I’m still relatively new to the sport and found myself learning a lot even on the virtual stage. That, and I just needed to compete. From there, I got back into formal training and started to experiment and take risks I wouldn’t otherwise have taken had this been a Paralympic year. Many of those experiments paid off and I wouldn’t be where I am now, if it weren’t for that period of time.

I also revamped my strength training So, to be honest, this one year delay has been a blessing in disguise. I’m using this extra year for good. It’s been difficult at times, but I’ve found ways to stay positive and keep my eye on the blessings of life and becoming the best that I can become by continually resetting my personal benchmarks.I’m going to come out ahead of where I would have without 2020, my best is yet to come. 

What is your weekly training schedule?

I get up every morning around 5 a.m. for my first session. Those alternate between high-intensity interval training—which means a lot of pain for that early in the morning—to 60 to 90 minute endurance rides, followed by longer three-hour rides on the weekend. From there, I transition to my desk for my day job as a retirement consultant.

I work as efficiently as I can so that in the afternoon I work through a strength training/plyometric training session and get back to my desk for more work. If all goes well, I’m upstairs helping in the kitchen and with the kids before dinner. I end the day with recovery exercises such as foam rolling and other release techniques while I try to keep my three-year-old from pouncing on me. 

You recently added VECTOR resistance training to your workout routine. What about it fits your training style?

I was immediately drawn to VECTOR and knew I needed one. At the time, I had been using resistance bands for strength training and maintenance while traveling with the family or being on the road with Team USA. I found even the best of those systems difficult to use in a number of ways and I couldn’t maximize my workout like I could on my everyday equipment.

VECTOR lets me have a workout on the road that’s much closer the experience I have at home and it’s much easier to set up and transition between exercises. Any time I can find a better way to train, while adding engagement, I’m all about it.