After a couple of conversations with athletes recently around this Corona Virus outbreak and its effect on the sports and events industries I thought it was time to write something about the situation to at least start a conversation and hopefully help you on your continued journey in sport and triathlon.
I’m not going to re hash the health and safety and hygiene advice that is everywhere at the moment and obviously be followed at all times as ultimately health and wellbeing is absolute priority over fitness but more to address the impact it has on your training and fitness and where you go from here in these uncertain times and for us as athletes where our mind and motivation goes when events become uncertain or cancelled/postponed.
As competitive people whether competing against yourself and previous times and placings or against others for positions and medals we ultimately judge our sporting ability on race day, with that being taken away it’s very easy for motivation to disappear, for the training to feel like it’s not worth it and mindset to dip. To combat this So here are some thoughts and ideas to help you change the way your thinking and to help keep you training and working to the best of your abilities through these times.
Focus on the journey, Start by being reflective, look at where you are at right now today in terms of fitness and abilities in sport and reflect back compared to where you were 6/12/18/24 months ago. Regardless of races hopefully you are a fitter, stronger, more resilient athlete and person and have enjoyed the journey you have been on to get there. Although we live in the day to day and are always looking forward spending a minute to reflect on the journey so far can give you a big motivation boost to keep that journey going because although you may not be racing in the next 6 weeks or whatever is ends up being you are still bettering yourself compared to previous versions of you.
Focus on the process this is something I have written about before and others have extensively on this focussing on the process of training rather than the overall outcome is a great way to work regardless of your race situation. Using the mindset of working to the best of your abilities today to get things done and to set yourself up to make tomorrow work as well as possible for you and generally not thinking much further ahead than that (from an executing training perspective obviously not planning real life) can give you a great present focus and take away the pressure of races or no races on the horizon. To do this though you have to 100% buy into your training plan and trust in the process, not second guess what you are doing and execute the day to day as best as you can. Then whether you are working on goals 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months away you can always be confident you are making progress and going in the right direction.
Set training goals, control the controllables and adapt as necessary. As athletes we all crave and work towards that sense of satisfaction when we complete something, cross the line of a race with a new PB or beat a rival but these can be transferred to training as well. Set goals in your training to complete a certain number of hours on the bike, certain power for a given duration or pace on the run or work on a new 400m swim PB. Things you can measure and control without needing a race environment to complete which leads to control the controllables and try not to stress about the rest. You can control your training, your attitude to training and the effort you put in and these can be great points of focus to keep you engaged and motivated when races are now further away. In these times we are going to need to adapt and be flexible, pools and gyms may be closed or inaccessible for a while but adapting to these situations, being flexible and changing your training plan to suit and focus on controlling your controllables and executing the process will keep you moving forward in these times.
Adjust the focus or move the goal posts. This is a tougher one to accept especially if you had an A race that has now been cancelled or moved significantly but there are still going to be plenty of opportunities to race and show what you can do. It may mean you set yourself a new A race later in the year, target a run or bike event or take it as an opportunity to try a new race or distance. Although no one is sure how this will actually pan out at the moment its going to be pretty safe to bet Summer and Autumn races will be there still and you now have the chance to se some big goals for them and the time to work towards them!
Gratitude and opportunity. Yes this situation sucks for you and your racing but bigger picture if you have your health then you can be pretty damn grateful for that! I think we very quickly get a bit wrapped up in the details or training and racing and actually taking a step back and being grateful for all the things you can still do is a much better approach than getting frustrated for all the things you cant do. We are privileged to be doing this sport in the 1st place and there are plenty of people out there who for one reason or another cant do what we do and would love to. Just keeping that near the front of your mind when things dont work out as originally planned can really help keep you positive. Also look for the opportunity in this, as i said above maybe nows the chance to enter that race later in the year that really scared you, go somewhere new or try a different distance. September to November and now going to be busy months for races and events so although you didnt manage that new PB in March or April imagine how much you could smash it by training through to the end of the year. It could also be that opportunity to learn those new skills, work on efficiency and technique and build strength and resilience, recover from an ongoing niggle or build a big foundation and base that will serve you for years to come!
All these things mean you may need to adapt your plans, if you have a coach then use them! They are there to help when things don’t go to plan A and thats where they really become worth the investment. Everyone will need a different approach to this so talk to them and about how you are feeling, set new goals that inspire and motivate you and adapt the plan to chase them with all the commitment you were chasing the original ones. Focus on the process and enjoy the journey as although you may have to wait a little longer your time to shine will still come.