A Paralympian’s Mindset: Adapting to COVID

A Paralympian’s Mindset: Adapting to COVID

An interview with Stef Reid, MBE.


One of the best things about hosting events is that we get to invite cool speakers. At Content+Cloud, we’re huge fans of Stef Reid, having first asked her to speak at our IT strategy briefing at McLaren in 2018.


And we’re thrilled to have Stef back with us, this time at our Digital Revolution Live 2020 event in November. Stef recently took time out from her busy schedule to let us know how she’s doing, reflect on life during lockdown, and to share her philosophy on adapting to change.


Stef, thanks for joining us. How did Covid-19 influence your training?


There was a lot of my training that was no longer possible. I didn’t have access to a long jump pit or a track; super important for me as my blades are designed to run on flat surfaces in a straight line. Fields and roads put me at risk for injury. Gym work couldn’t be the same. I have very specialised equipment that I could no longer access.


And how did you adapt your training routine?


Lockdown was about focusing on what I could do well. I spent the summer working on muscle patterning. You are strongest when your muscles fire and work together in the correct sequence. Most people operate with cheat patterns – the body is clever, and it will find a way to get something done.

Because of the nature of my injuries and the asymmetry I now have in my body, I have more than most. So that is what we did. A lot of body weight work focused on instilling the right muscle patterns.


What was the impact of your new training schedule?


It worked! Eventually, we were allowed back into facilities with the proper social distancing. Aston (Reid’s coach) noticed changes in my running and in my technical jump work that were very surprising considering we hadn’t done any work on them.

We got data to back it up. In four years, I have struggled to improve my acceleration. I’m nearing the end of my career, so some measurements are considered good if you maintain rather than improve.  But I managed to finally shave time consistently off my first 10m – really unexpected when you considered the work I hadn’t been doing!


How else did you spend your time during the lockdown?


The extra time meant I could try and sort out some of the lingering questions I still had about stiffness and blade alignment. My sport will always be a combination of physical and engineering excellence; a bit like cycling and car racing. I could be the most physically gifted athlete on the start line, but if I don’t have a leg that is optimised, I might not win.


Tell us about your relationship with your coach, Aston Moore.


We have been working together since 2015. We know each other pretty well by now. He is steadfast, he takes his time choosing his words and making decisions, he is not one to artificially inflate your ego.  A good day with Aston, “you know, that wasn’t terrible”.  I trust him. I trust his judgment. When he says something is good, I know it is good.

There are times when Aston gets really excited, and you get a big reaction out of him. And you know you’ve done something really good. And then I do it again on the next rep, and…..nothing. And I asked him, did I not do it again? You don’t look excited anymore. He said it was good. You did it again. But now that I have seen it, I expect it every time.


What’s your philosophy on coping with change?


My first experience in having to adapt came when I was 15. COVID -19: everything changed. The rules have now changed, so we need to change too.


It can be a good thing when circumstances force you into a new way of working. We never would have gone this route had we not been forced into it by COVID. Routines, strategy, everything. It is a never-ending process of tweaking.

And just when you think you have nailed it and sorted out your formula to deal with the challenges of this situation, the situation changes, the rules change, and you have to start all over again. It is tiring, but I will probably look back and consider it a gift.


I also don’t want to paint too rosy a picture. There is a reason why industry and training norms exist –  they work. It is a fine balance between trying to reinvent the wheel and knowing that you can’t reinvent the wheel.

There are times when I just want to sit and enjoy my momentary victory. But if you sit for too long, the world moves on.


In business and in elite sport, the standards are high. The risks and rewards are high. But even when you find yourself in a scenario that isn’t working, creativity, hard work, and the right tools can bring about change. It is not comfortable, you will spend time feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts, but we are made to adapt, it is our gift. And when we are willing to put ourselves through the unknown, that is when we can end up with results and insights we never knew were possible.


New perspectives are powerful. It is good to bring in new people, but it is powerful when we can change our own and learn to think in new ways.


Join Stef and a stellar line-up of speakers at Digital Revolution Live 2020

Don’t miss our online event of the year, designed to equip business leaders and IT heads with the tools you need to adapt to our changing world. Click here for at-a-glance details.


And to browse the agendas for this free event and register, please click here or the button below. We hope to see you there!



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