Lucy Hall enjoyed one of the best years of her career in 2021 – and credited the Covid-19 pandemic for providing greater perspective and freshness after a difficult couple of seasons.
Hall, 29, represented Team GB in triathlon at London 2012 and later moved up to 70.3 events, though at times struggled with doubts about whether she wanted to continue competing.
With no races during the height of Covid-19, she instead worked as a cleaner at a local physio and also in Premier League Covid testing - and credits that time as a key factor for her recent success.
Hall, who hails from Leicester but trains in Leeds as part of Brownlee Fitness, said: “It was actually quite nice to do something totally different.
“It allowed me during the winter to have a different focus and not over-train, which I think I do tend to do. It just allowed me to do something totally different and not be over-tired coming into race season.
“I think after working in a different environment, it gave me a totally different perspective. It definitely gave me that new hunger for what I was doing and what I wanted to focus on in triathlon. It just left me fresh as well.”
After a disrupted 2020 season and a delayed start to 2021, Hall started her season with back-to-back second-place finishes at the Eton Dorney Triathlon and Challenge Gdansk.
However, she then recorded consecutive victories at the IM 70.3 Gdynia and Challenge Samorin and would later win the Challenge Budva with third-place finishes in Salou and Mallorca.
She said: “All in all I’m really chuffed with the season. It’s been a pretty turbulent year and it’s been pretty hard to plan and organise trips internationally.
“Being a pro athlete a lot of races do tend to happen abroad so this last year’s been very up and down, not really knowing what races were around the corner.
“Towards the back end of the season things were opening up and races were happening. I was fit and healthy, I raced really well so I’m super happy with my season. I’ve got one more race happening next weekend [4 December] in America and then that’s 2021 finished.
“I think the highlight was maybe winning the Challenge Championship in Samorin. I really didn’t expect that and it just built my confidence a lot. I went from there and raced back-to-back four weekends in a row in September, October time.
“It was so nice to be back doing what we love. It’s just nice having that bit of normality, having that back in your life. You don’t realise how lucky we are to be able to do what we do, and to be able to travel and race again was just a great feeling.”
After her final race of the season in the US, Hall plans to take a few weeks of rest before starting her winter training ahead of the 2022 season.
And, while her 2021 season has brought incredible success, she’s got even bigger and better plans for next year.
She said: “For next year I really want to aim for the World 70.3 Championships in Utah.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t race the worlds this year because I came down with a bit of a cold and it didn’t seem like a good idea to fly halfway across the world and try and push myself when I wasn’t 100 per cent.
“To actually focus and target that race would probably be one of my main goals, and then to potentially race my first long distance full IRONMAN race.
“I’ve been watching a few of the 70.3 racers tackle that this year and it looks really tough - it looks really challenging so I’m not going into it think it will be a breeze.
“I think it’s going to be a really tough challenge - but I’m looking forward to trying to tackle that distance and seeing what I can learn.”