2020 meant perfect vision, or so we thought. We saw things so clearly early in the year, but it turned into a cloud of blurriness and confusion. Our races got cancelled, our plans got derailed, and most of all, the smiles we used to wear were turned upside down.
LIVING IN LIMBO
A long layover like this is unfamiliar to most of us athletes. In our country, races and events happen all year round. We were always preparing for something, whether it be triathlons, duathlons, open water swims, or run races, . An event was always just around the corner. Maybe that’s also why things have been extra difficult for a lot of us. Events are usually lined up one after the other such that when something like this happens, we tend to lose focus.
WHAT DO WE DO?
When we don’t have races lined up, do we stop training? To answer this question, let’s go back to why we started training in the first place and why we kept going all these months or years. If you’re like me, the thought of finishing a race challenged you and got you interested. You were excited at the thought of crossing the finish line and looking cool with all the gear you wore and used. That sense of excitement probably peaked as you began your training program and slowly died out as weeks or months passed. The scheduling, the fatigue, the expenses, and distractions can take its toll leading up to the race. A lot of people probably would’ve quit; but not you. You soldiered on despite the difficulties and knew your purpose for doing so. Quickly, you would have probably realized that the most difficult part of racing isn’t the race itself but rather the day to day commitment involved in preparing for it. The hardships we endured while training gives us that sense of accomplishment as we finish each race. The saying “nothing worthwhile ever came easy” makes more sense to us now.
TRIATHLON AS A LIFESTYLE
As a triathlete, I’ve raced rather continuously since 2009 with very minimal breaks. When people ask why I don’t burn myself out, the answer is rather simple: it’s a lifestyle. Yes I take vacations, and I do rest but I don’t really like using the term “off season.” This, for me, implies a sense of burden with respect to training. Something that we need to be relieved of. Rather, I like the term “preseason.” Preseason is something I find to be more proactive, more optimistic, and more hopeful. Preseason doesn’t mean continuous training. Rather, preseason means addressing the things you need to give importance to. Prime examples would be: technique, strength, or even recovery.
We are still triathletes and not being able to race (soon) doesn’t change that. We should treat the ability to exercise and train as a blessing rather than a task we need to accomplish. Yes there are hard and difficult days but our character shows in how we are able to manage them. Being able to look at the big picture and look ahead is what we need to learn.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Treating this time as a long “preseason” rather than a long “off season” changes the tone of everything. We now have an opportunity to work on our weaknesses like never before. During our very busy season, volume is often emphasized while other important aspects are brushed aside. Things like making our form more efficient, building strength, improving our technique, and even managing our weight are all things we can achieve during this time. This setback presents opportunities.
To be honest, it doesn’t matter how many months it takes before our next race to happen. Our goal during this time should be to stay healthy, improve, and prepare ourselves for the inevitable return of our sport. We’ll see each other on the race course sooner than you think!