2020 is quickly becoming the year of postponed, rescheduled, or cancelled for nearly all races, events, and activities. So, you had a race planned and were on track for training and ready to set a record. The sense of loss or disappointment experienced when a race is cancelled is very real and nearly all athletes have experienced this at one point or another. This year it can hit especially hard, though, because our lives have been upended in so many ways. How can we use the removal of a race for our benefit as athletes?
As endurance athletes, we have a tendency to focus on completing every workout exactly as prescribed and to drift towards perfectionism. I often see patients in my office who struggle with incomplete workouts or getting off track with training, which causes quite a bit of difficulty with enjoying training. Many runners or triathletes find themselves struggling with enjoying training when the volume gets higher and life demands increase pressure in other ways. It is as if we have lost the true joy of running or exercising, and we are struggling to find it in the metrics, paces, weekly mileage, or Strava segments.
If you find yourself struggling with training and it feels like a chore more than something you enjoy and look forward to each day, then this may be a golden opportunity for you. This could be a time to step back from rigorous training schedules and “checking the boxes” of your plan. This could be a time to rediscover why you love running, riding, or swimming. Find the child-like wonder of when you first realized you love your endurance sport.
Some first steps for this include the following:
- Leave your watch at home. This can be both anxiety-producing and relieving at the same time! Leaving your watch at home will allow you to focus on your surroundings, your breathing, and your daily life more than when you are focusing on the miles and pace. Don’t worry, it is normal to feel naked or ill-equipped if you are used to metric-tracking.
- Bring your watch, but only look at it for time. By transitioning from mile and pace tracking, to time tracking, it can allow you to focus on how you feel in the moment, rather than relentlessly tracking “achievements”.
- Break your normal routine. Instead of your normal run, ride, or swim day, try something different! Try a yoga class on YouTube or a group fitness video. Run a different route – one you don’t know the distance or character of. Variety can add some spice to your fitness and allow you to feel more refreshed.
- Cultivate awareness of your training state. Journal or meditate on how your body feels each day. If you are feeling good and refreshed, feel free to train and push the difficulty if you would like to! If you are feeling stressed or run-down, take the day off or do some active recovery.
While none of us would likely prefer our current state of living to the normal, we can take this opportunity to work on becoming healthier and happier athletes. Maybe we can discover why we started this sport in the first place, and be more joyful because of it.
Thanks for reading,