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Training Intelligently in the Time of COVID-19 with Dr. Jeff Sankoff

BY TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel

Listen as Endurance Coach and Emergency Room Physician, Doctor Jeff Sankoff discusses the current status and future of racing in the time of COVID-19.

If there ever was someone with true expertise in endurance training through a pandemic, it would be Jeff Sankoff. As a doctor of 21 years, with a specialty in critical care, he has deep insight into the physiology behind triathlon training and racing, in addition to a well-informed perspective on the current status of race safety in the time of COVID-19.

Jeff is also a triathlete with many Ironman and Half-Ironman race finishes under his belt. Listen as Dirk and Jeff explore the future of safe racing as well as discuss the infectivity of COVID-19 among training athletes. 

Stand-out Quotes

  • “I say that triathlon changed my life and it really did… and especially now throughout this period of quarantine and everything else we’ve been going through, even without races training has been a huge, huge boon to my mental health.”
  • “Indoor transmission, restaurants and bars are so dangerous, because it’s restricted airflow and the air tends to be recirculated. It’s really dangerous in those small spaces, but outdoors, you have continual air movement. You also have changes in humidity and you have direct ultraviolet light from the sun. So all of those things together just seem to make outdoor transmission of this virus much, much less.”
  • “Other kinds of viruses, influenza viruses, we have an excellent immune response to it and we actually retain this immune memory. And if you get re-exposed you, your response is very, very strong and you tend not to get reinfected. With coronavirus, it tends not to be quite as good.”
  • “You asked a question about how many viral particles you need to be exposed to and that’s really the crux of this to be infected. It requires both exposure, it requires time and it requires viral load as you’re running along and you’re passing by people. You simply do not have the time or the exposure to get a sufficient viral load to be infected, especially when you’re outdoors.”
  • “I’ve talked to a couple of local race directors here in town and the issue for them is volunteers on the water. They’ve got to get permitting. They have to have enough people out on the course to watch traffic. And there’s just a certain number of participants they need to make it viable. And the question is what’s that magic number?”
  • “I came to the realization that I don’t just train to race. Training for me has become so much more a part of my life. And it’s so important to me for so many other reasons.”


Jeff Sankoff’s Instagram

Jeff Sankoff’s Podcast: The TriDoc Podcast on iTunes

Jeff Sankoff’s Podcast: The TriDoc Podcast on Spotify

Jeff Sankoff’s Website

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Coachcast Host Dirk Friel
About TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel

Dirk Friel is the host of the TrainingPeaks CoachCast and Co-Founder of TrainingPeaks. He is a lifelong athlete with a passion for cycling and ski mountaineering and firmly believes in goal setting, dedicated deliberate training and coaching for all. Learn more about his work at TrainingPeaks and follow his adventures on Instagram @dirkfriel.

Visit TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel's Coach Profile