By Stephen Reville
Recently I had a conversation with one of my age group athletes. They said that with so many races cancelled, what’s the point of training? It’s just a waste of time, according to them.
But my response was, why should you not continue training anyway?
I like to keep my athletes motivated. If they’re feeling down I try to perk them up and show them there is light at the end of the tunnel.
So for my athletes during this time, I design a challenge every 4 to 8 weeks to keep you on your toes, and to hit some targets and work with what we have. We can even do some virtual events. You can set yourself goals -- some you might have never thought of if it hadn’t been for COVID-19.
Now, if you want to become a good age group Ironman athlete, you have to log a few years to get to your peak for this sort of racing. As she was commentating Ironman Switzerland this weekend I heard Ironman world champion Michellie Jones say that it usually takes seven years for an elite Ironman athlete to understand and start to show the kind of athlete they are. For age groupers, most don’t get to their peak till their mid-40s.
For folks that feel past peak and feel like what’s the point of exercising if there is race uncertainty, my answer to you is remember why you started this journey. If you think it was only to race well, then I’d say think about your health and how fit and strong you feel when you're training, not to mention what it does for your mental health. Surround yourself with people with a good outlook on life. If you’re locked in then video call mates who you look up to with that sort of mindset.
As a coach my philosophy is that if you want to be good at something, then you’re going to have to learn to deal with adversity. You need to be able to work around it and keep moving forward.
There will eventually come a time for races to return. The more miles and quality efforts that you bank now will build your foundation for when the gates open up again for racing. You can back off on your training load, as long as you have some plan in place so when races open up you're more than ready.
The law of inertia also applies to training: if you stop now then you will find it much harder to make your comeback than if you’re already rolling along to begin with.