How to stay motivated when you’re not sure if your race will go ahead

I know the feeling. You have a big race planned for this year. You planned all your training. Bought all your new gear in the hopes that it will keep you excited and motivated to train. Perhaps you were feeling optimistic that your cancelled race from 2020 is going to go ahead in 2021. But slowly you’re seeing races being postponed again, or worse still, being cancelled. And now you’re quickly losing motivation to train. I understand, as do many other triathletes and athletes in other sports too. However, if you clicked on this page, the chances are that you are looking for ways to keep motivated to continue training.


Below I have outlined a few things to keep in mind when you don’t want to go for that long run or when that “what’s the point” thought pops into your mind.



1) I’m training for my mental health

I know for me personally, if I don’t go out and do some form of exercise, I can easily find myself feeling a bit, well, not quite myself. Training has always been a way for me to clear my head, so especially at a time where we might not be able to do the other things that help to keep us sane, use a training session to give yourself some endorphins and use that time to clear your head.



2) I’m training to keep my fitness up and continue to improve my cardiovascular endurance

Don’t train specifically for your race, just train to keep your fitness up and your health in top shape. Regardless of whether your race goes ahead or not, you are going for that run for the sake of your health, and not for your race.


Continue to train to build up your endurance levels. Now is the ideal time to be working away on your zone 2/3 training.



3) Pretend that your race is not cancelled and that you still will be doing your planned event on that day

You can even possibly replicate the race yourself on that day. This might be a bit harder for a triathlon, but perhaps you could do the bike and run section of the race. Your family and/or friends could make up a mini finish line for you and you could have a little celebration at the end. Whatever you do, planning to complete that distance and achieving that goal with your own race is a great motivator to continue to keep training.



4) If your race is not officially postponed or cancelled yet and you are in limbo land…

If your race hasn’t officially been postponed or cancelled then you better pull up your socks and get out there and train because you don’t want to leave it too late and suffer on race day! And yes, I know, at this stage, you’re probably seeing other races being cancelled and feeling unsure of the future of your race for this year, or maybe you’ve even convinced yourself that your race will be cancelled, but to date, it has not. So get your running shoes on, jump on your bike, or do whatever it is you need to do to KEEP TRAINING!! And if your race does get cancelled… I refer you back to point number 3.



5) Remind yourself that the completion of the race is not the only thing that you should be celebrating – the training before is just as important, and possibly even more

I watched a yes theory video about a guy called Matt where he decided to do an Ironman with one of his friends. During part of the film, Matt, was in a deflated state, seemingly tired from all the training he was doing. He asked his training partner:


“What if it’s not worth it?”


To which his training partner replied:


“It’s always worth it, you won’t want to get attached to the result, the result [for us] is who we get to be because of it. It doesn’t matter if you finish or not, it matters that you put in the work to prepare yourself the best you can”.


This has stuck with me ever since. The dedication, the discipline, the breaking through the pain barrier etc. These are the things that you need to celebrate as well! Race day is just the stage where you get to show off your hard work. It’s a tiny % of the time that you have spent on reaching your goal. It is the tip of the iceberg, but underneath that iceberg is all the hard work, and that needs to be celebrated too.



6) Take part in virtual races

Throughout the pandemic, lots of virtual races have popped up. Some of the companies that have had to cancel their races have gone onto turn them into virtual races. Having a virtual race can be a good motivator to keep you training for the race day that you’d originally signed up for.



7) Set monthly targets so that you feel like you are achieving something

Set yourself a goal(s) for the month to train a certain distance or for a certain amount of time. Decide on a reward at the start of the month for if you achieve your goal. This will keep you motivated to train.



8) Take time to practice with your nutrition

Use this time to practice your nutrition. As you increase your triathlon distance, your nutrition becomes more and more important. Use this extra time to practice your nutrition and play around with the different options available. You might just find something that works better for you!



9) Join a triathlon club /take part in your triathlon club group events

Joining a club will probably be the biggest motivator to keep you training. Being around other people that are also training will encourage you to keep training. Triathlon chats will keep you wanting to train more.


Some triathlon clubs will have club virtual cycles on Zwift etc., and a host of other activities to keep you training!



10) Get an accountability coach, that will check in on you to see whether you have completed the training you signed up to for that week or get a triathlon coach

One way to ensure that you do your training each week is to get an accountability coach. This could be a family member, a training partner or you can even pay someone to keep you accountable (this one often works the best because when you exchange your money for a service, you usually want to make it worth while)


Hiring a triathlon coach will help you stay accountable whilst also improving your abilities for when racing starts back up again.



11) Work on flexibility and stretching. The things that a lot of people neglect / do not have the time for usually

Maybe you’re not up to training, or you can’t bring yourself to train as hard as you would have if your race had gone ahead. Well, now you have a lot of extra time to work on that mobility and flexibility that a lot of us triathletes never have time for/ chose to neglect. So pull out that yoga mat, get into that downward dog and stretch your muscles. (You should be doing this every day, but sure, fitting in three sports and yoga…)



12) If all the above fail to motivate you… well then just think of the Strava likes when you’ve run a marathon, or cycled 100km or whatever your Everest is

This might just be the number one motivator!


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