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Struggling to stay motivated? How to deal with summertime racing uncertainty

Training into the unknown

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I was really looking forward to the summer. The team I coach with had planned a whole bunch of really fun and dynamic training opportunities that were scheduled to start up in the spring and run throughout the summer. After the long winter and lack of training opportunities this past year, the coaches and athletes were really excited at the prospect of training and racing together again. People have been swimming in Lake Ontario since February!

Unfortunately, across much of Canada, a giant question-mark has returned to hang over the 2021 triathlon season. Will racing happen? Will it be in person or will virtual racing be the only option? Will it be realistic to travel to races that are planned in other lower-restriction locations? When will group training sessions return? These are a lot of unknowns to deal with, even if we’ve been through it all before.

Given this situation, I think the best response at the moment is to accept the lack of certainty. Nothing you do, on the bike trainer or otherwise, is going to change your ability to have a normal race season. That decision is out of your hands right now. Once we accept this lack of control over our race season, we can spend our energy figuring out what we want to do with our fitness this summer instead of tying ourselves in knots in order to try to make a race happen.

Related: Monday motivation – What’s your hill?

I wrote a piece for this magazine last summer that counseled you to take stock of your motivations for participating in triathlon and to use that insight to develop a plan for how to use our fitness. This is still good advice. For some of you, this might mean releasing the idea of racing entirely and shifting to other priorities and goals. For others it might mean getting heavily invested in the virtual race scene and notching up QOMs in your online riding group.

We can also use the energy that we might use planning and preparing for races to control what we can control. In addition to finding goals that excite you this summer, this can mean working on the process of training for a triathlon. Do you have a weakness that you want to work on? Has strength training or flexibility been something that you always struggle with? Do you want to work on establishing good recovery practices? These are all elements of being a triathlete over which you can have significant control.

Overall, find what excites you about being a triathlete, accept where you lack control, and control what you can. I believe that this is the best way to move forward in these times and will help you keep your passions burning for triathlon and ready to resume full participation when that is possible.

Darian Silk is a triathlon coach and Clinical Exercise Physiologist based in Toronto. Read more about Darian here or email him at darian@teamatomica.com.  You can also check out his TrainingPeaks profile here.