Uncertainty seems to permeate the air. Athletes nervous about race cancellations, Race Directors under pressure to provide answers, workouts restricted due to social distancing, concerns on health in general. With this uncertainty looming, sticking to goals can be difficult. Maybe your first race of the season was cancelled, maybe your destination “A” race was rescheduled for fall. Should you stick to your original goals? Do you set new goals? Is it smart to sign up for a different race later in the year? How do you adjust your training?
The first thing I would suggest is to open your annual training plan. Identify what races were cancelled or rescheduled. For cancelled races, mentally, you need to grieve and move forward. Change is difficult, but you will overcome. Regarding your training program, you may need to get rid of a taper depending on if this was an “A” race or a training race. For rescheduled races, pencil those in for their new dates. Again, you may need to remove any existing tapers. You may also need to reconsider participating in some of these events if their rescheduled date is now too close to another race. It’s okay to have one or two races close in proximity, but too many can lead to overtraining, injury and burnout, especially if you push hard in each one. Looking at your adjusted season, make the decision if you want to add another race. I would not suggest registering now, but do your research and keep an eye on possible events.
Now that your race season is very likely heavy in the late summer and fall, you will need to adjust your base and build periods. Simply put, this means you won’t need to build in duration or intensity quite as early into your training as you originally would have. You don’t want to peak too early or burn out before you’ve even done a race. To help maintain training motivation early in the season, try out a virtual race. You will push harder knowing your results will be scored and it’s a great way to support your local or favorite race company.
Since you may have more free time with a bit less training and more time at home, this is a great time to improve or build on other areas of your game. Get down and dirty in the kitchen, testing new and healthy recipes for the season. Cook these in bulk to freeze and use when life is hectic down the road. Search swim videos and learn all you can about swimming mechanics. While you can’t swim now, you can certainly improve your understanding on form and be better prepared for training when you’re back at the pool. Maybe you didn’t work on your strength gains enough in the off season, depending on your new race layout, you could possibly build that in now. This is also the perfect opportunity to work on your mental game, read more on that in my previous blog, "Believe What You Can Achieve." Never stop learning, there’s always something you can improve on.
Think positive. Maybe this time is a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, you must take one step backward to take two steps forward. I talk a lot about dreaming big, setting goals and having courage. Sometimes I don’t even practice what I preach, although I'm definitely working on it. Progress is progress, no matter how small. Don’t give up on your goals or your training. If you’re not working and living towards your goals and dreams, what are you living for?
Think positive and get after your goals. Adjust your training and racing season and use this opportunity to build on your existing game. And, remember, ALWAYS AME high and rock that amazing smile!