Okay, this will be hard, but I am going to write this blog without once mentioning the ‘c’ word. Lately, it is impossible to avoid it. It’s on the news, social media, and most blogs are dedicated to it. But not this bad boy. I don’t want to give it the time of day. Instead, I am going to talk more generally about how us athletes can best deal with cancelled races for whatever reason that might be. When we get the news that a race isn’t going ahead, there’s a few steps can take:
Step 1: Deal with the emotion
You hear the news and it’s a shock. Chances are you are feeling some emotions, anger, frustration, even grief and that’s okay. It’s a natural reaction to want to throw your toys out of the pram when you have put so much work in over many months. However, it’s important to channel that emotion in the right way. Before you don your finest keyboard warrior armour, think about what that will achieve. Getting into a fight with a random troll in cyberspace will only drain your energy and likewise attacking large corporations about their refund policies will not bring you any joy either. You are better off ringing a training buddy to blow off a little steam in a way you won’t regret later.
Step 2: Build a bridge and get over it
Okay, this is my tough love moment. You have had your rant (trust me it helps!), now you need to park it and look forward. Yes, it was your ‘A’ race and you had invested a lot of time and energy but dwelling on what is lost will only stifle your progress. We still have our health and our ability to train, and we will be ready to race when the calendar opens up again. Unfortunately, many people will have bigger things to deal with in a time of crisis, lost jobs and sadly even lost loved ones. Hopefully a cancelled race is the worst thing you may have to process.
Step 3: Review the options for the A race carefully
Many races are offering athletes the option of deferring their entries to 2021. Whilst it may be tempting, review your calendar, check out the logistics and the course and talk to your coach/training posse. Grabbing the first alternative before fully reviewing your options may leave you open for regrets later on. Take your time and find the right option for you.
Step 4: Micro plan/get something out of this year
Now that the A race is probably a long way away – look at creating a mini goal for this season
Look at about smaller domestic smaller races – these are more likely to happen.
Think of it as a bridge between now and restarting your A race plan.
I currently am having these conversations with my squad and people who have bought one of my plans – even the simple first step of looking forward to a new goal is incredibly therapeutic.
Step 5: Take what you have learned in lockdown to enhance your training regime
In times of crisis, people get creative. We have found new ways of training, some of which will be better than the old ways of training.
- Maybe you are doing the group indoor rides with your training pals on Zoom. Does it make that session go faster? Yes, so let’s keep doing that.
- Maybe you are trying yoga. Maybe was never on your radar before (too busy, pools to visit, miles to ride) but in fairness since you have added it there has been no sign of that troublesome calf injury. So, might keep that downward dog stuff that in the plan.
- Dryland swim workouts – when you get the chance to get back to swimming and hopefully find your catch strong (admittedly only positive) that might have something to do with the 2 x 20 min dryland session a for the last few weeks – strong catch – sounds sweet to me.
Current circumstances have called for a lot of innovation. Don’t blindly return to old “tried and tested” routines once things settle down. Have a chat with your coach/training pals and take note the new approaches that worked well for you so you can incorporate them into your next training plan.
Step 6: Recognise that this too shall pass
While it might be hard to see, this too shall pass. Club training, long group bikes and racing will all return. As a triathlete, you have already shown discipline and determination to achieve fitness and personal goals. Don’t lose faith now. Step back from the Netflix and treats and find a new schedule that builds on the gains you have already made.
Step 7: Reset and re-plan your ‘A’ race based on new learnings
Imagine if your race was to still to happen in six or eight weeks’ time or whatever the original time frame. Would you be confident with your training? I suspect many of you would be in the same boat as me, missing more long bikes or turbo sessions than maybe was ideal.
Of course, it would be fool hardy to think we will ever be 100% happy with our training (we always think we could have done more) but there are big learnings we can take on board without some painful race lessons.
It is not often we get the chance to hit the pause button in life, review/reflect and then try to tweak things to our advantage.
Look forward not backward
In summary, a race cancellation is never welcome news but how we dust ourselves off, apply learnings, and refocus will be the real definition of ourselves as triathletes.
Stay safe, stay healthy and above all, stay positive folks.
Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 20 years of endurance racing including numerous IRONMAN finishes and world championship qualifications
Realising this fact, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full time coaching. Steven is now Tri Sutto, IRONMAN UNIVERSITY ®, ITU and Training Peaks level 2 certified and in 2017, was awarded Triathlon Ireland Coach of the year.
Browse his pre-built training plans by clicking here or if you have triathlon queries you can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org