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7 Emotional stages of January triathlon training

Staying motivated through the winter can be challenging for Canadian triathletes - especially during a pandemic

We’re about two-thirds of the way through the month, and a couple of days past what Strava has dubbed “quitters day” based on its research of millions of athletes’ cycling and running data which shows that January 19 is the day athletes are most likely to give up on their new year’s resolution fitness goals. Right – exactly the news you wanted to hear as we struggle through a global pandemic.

We feel your pain … and are confident there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Lamenting the fact that you can’t swim … then realizing there’s an upside

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With so much of the country in lockdown right now, we haven’t been able to do much swimming. That’s a bummer, for sure, but think about this – if there was a time to take a break from the pool, isn’t January a good one?

Remember all those days when you had to brush the snow off the car at 5 AM as you’re trying to make your 5:30 masters swim session. Especially when just a few days before the temperature was in the teens, so you haven’t bundled up enough for the suddenly sub-zero temperatures you’re enduring.

Of course, your hair freezing on the way back to the car after the swim is not much fun, either.

So, hopefully the timing will work out and we’ll be able to hit the pool just as the temperatures start to warm up a little!

Getting trounced during a Zwift workout

It’s the middle of January and you’re already getting bored with hitting the trainer in the basement. You get yourself down there, though, get started on a group ride … then get railroaded by my son and a bunch of his national-team cycling buddies who are determined to bury everyone in sight. Or, even worse, Jan Frodeno’s avoiding traffic again over in the south of Spain and decided he’s going to trounce everyone around during a “recovery” ride, too.

Jan Frodeno during a Zwift group ride after his win at the 2019 Ironman European Championship. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Just when you thought you were making some progress with your power numbers …

Thinking you wore too little as you started your run …

There’s never a bad weather day … just poor clothing choices. Yeah, whatever. We all know that we’re supposed to be a little cool as we start a winter run so that, as you start pushing a bit harder and generating some heat, you don’t start cooking. Still, it’s never fun being cold, so inevitably we wear too much and then start roasting by the halfway point of our tempo runs.

The lesson from this experience? Trust yourself and the high-tech clothes all the companies are pumping out these days that make winter training so much more enjoyable.

There’s at least two more months of this?

Let’s all pray for a warm March, shall we?

Learning how to skate ski, or arming yourself with the perfect snow shoes

Remember all those years that you wondered why those cross-country ski folks were so strong on the bike? Once you get out on the snow yourself, especially if you can master skate-skiing, you’ll immediately understand why and want to spend more time enjoying the outdoors and flying along the snow! Suddenly a snowy March and even April wouldn’t be such a bad thing!

Sometimes you don’t need to be out skiing to find yourself loving the winter – the right pair of shoes and some hard-packed snow can make for some magical runs, too!

Nailing a personal best road race

Victoria Coates racing at the 2018 Boxing Day Road Race in Hamilton, Ont.

There’s nothing quite like a mid-winter goal to keep you honest. Remember that half-marathon you ran at the beginning of March and the conditions were near perfect – clear roads and temperatures a few degrees above zero (rather than the scorching 30+ C weather you endured last summer) where you nailed a PB? Racing might still be up in the air, but there are lots of virtual options available and you can even set up your own time trial in the early spring. Having a goal will make it much easier to keep training this winter!

Pulling the trigger on a fall race-cation or training camp

With vaccines rolling out around the world, hopefully it’s realistic that we’ll be doing some local racing this summer with the chance at some international travel in the fall. If not a race, how about a late fall training camp with lots of warm-weather training to look forward to. There are lots of options in Arizona, Florida, California, Mexico, or, my personal favourite – Lanzarote … here we come!

Alessandro Degaspari enjoys some warm weather training in Lanzarote. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon