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The 5 stages of returning to training

The emotional stages of coming back after time off swimming, biking and running

You’ve suddenly realized that race in June is coming up in a hurry. You know you promised yourself you’d be getting back into training in January, but it just didn’t happen. Not sure why February was a right off, but …

So it’s March, and you’ve taken the plunge. You’ve hit the pool for a few workouts, done some sessions on the trainer, and dragged yourself out the door for a few runs. It’s been a tough slog, but we can promise one thing – as you work through these five stages, things will get easier!

Bambi on ice

Those first few strokes in the water and running strides tend to feel … well, awful. Everything feels weird and awkward, and you are going to struggle to get any rhythm and flow. At its worst you’ll feel like Bambi sliding on the ice, but remember – hang in there, it will get better.

This GPS watch and power meter is broken

“There’s no way that I am running/ cycling/ swimming this slow.”

As you work to get your body back into shape, you may also find that you’re working really hard to hit a pace that’s usually conversational. You’ll blame your watch, you’ll blame your shoes, you’ll blame your power meter, you’ll blame the weather–but deep inside you know it’s just the unfortunate loss of fitness.

My whole body hurts

Did that 30-minute run feel like a marathon? You mean that was only a 1,000 m swim? How many people dusted me on Zwift? Go easy on yourself and maybe book a massage appointment while you’re at it.

I’m quitting


Those first few workouts will make you question how much you want to be a triathlete. But you will snap out of this after a couple of weeks. Go have a snack and put these crappy initial workouts behind you. You know it gets better from here.

I’m back!

After a few workouts back in each sport, you’ll start to feel more like your old training self. Your legs will feel more like Chelsea Sodaro’s than Bambi’s, your attitude will improve (bye bye, pity party of one) and your body won’t feel like it has sustained a significant trauma.

Soon you’ll be wondering what you were being so melodramatic about a few days earlier. Welcome back to triathlon.

A version of this story appeared on runningmagazine.ca