2020: THE TRIATHLON SEASON THAT NEVER HAPPENED

HOW TRIATHLETES CAN DEAL WITH THE CORONA VIRUS OUTBREAK 

As the postponements continue trickling in, scuppering race plans one by one, it’s pretty clear that the 2020 season has gotten off to a bit of a false start. Two weeks ago, you’d have been forgiven for your blissful ignorance – that ‘it’ll never reach me’ stance - but it’s now pretty clear to see when it comes to training/racing, 2020 is the year you’re going to have to change tact a little.  

Miffed would be an understatement. As a triathlete, you’re lost without a goal, and with very little swim-bike-run action left on the calendar, seemingly the only thing left to do is wallow in the cloud of despondency that’s engulfed social media and your local swimming pool alike.

But first, a little perspective. Triathlon is just a sport. A sport that both fulfills and consumes us, granted. Despite having shelled out 4 figures for a TT bike, and arranging your family holiday to coincide with your Ironman (the secret’s out!), some things just have to take precedence – and this is one of them.  

Of course, we are all empathetic to race organizers and governing bodies with tough decisions to make. It’s in the interest of our safety, and no one stands to benefit from those decisions. But empathy doesn’t bring back the hours of training that have led you to this point. The hard work you’ve laid down, in search of the promised land - that is, fitness and form - seems to have been in vain. But if that’s really the case, I’d advise you to seriously assess why it is you took up triathlon in the first place... 

‘A’ races, PBs and performances are a catalyst to many, but I’m guessing your ‘why’ was born out of a need for vitality, a craving for community and an ongoing quest for freedom, more than a love of your dog-eared race bib collection, or the 10K time that you proudly inserted into your Instagram bio. The process is all too easy to lose sight of in this day and age, but before you diminish all those ‘squandered’ hours, maybe consider the joys that can be stumbled upon every day, during your daily swim set or Tuesday turbo. They may be small, but they’re abundant nonetheless.  

And spare a thought for the pros, who’s form is essentially their livelihood. The ITU athlete, engine finely tuned ahead of WTS Abu Dhabi  (originally scheduled for the weekend just gone) or the long course workhorse returning to the drawing board, forced to spend another month in quiet preparation, sponsors becoming twitchy with their lack of race exposure. Even they will find solace in the process and focus on controlling what is truly controllable.   

So how can you get the most out the lull we now find ourselves in? How to stave off the boredom without exhausting the Netflix catalog, and come out the other side in good shape for what will hopefully be left of the triathlon season? 

  • Turbo Time! Hey, it’s the obvious choice. Triathletes were self-isolating in their pain caves before it was all the rage. You’re going to want to enlist the help of a smart trainer platform like Zwift or Trainer Road, to stimulate that poor noggin of yours as you rack up the miles. It’s the least you can do after malnourishing it on a diet of crime-drama boxsets and Corona info-graphics. Level up, boost your FTP and spend some quality time with your [virtual] mates in the saddle. Face-to-face contact was so last year... 

  • Take care of the mobility and core strength you ‘never have time for’. You could don your brightest leg warmers and crack out the Davina McCall legs, bums and tums DVD (apologies for just alienating our entire international audience). My bet, however, would be to access the wealth of follow-alongs available on YouTube, covering everything from hip tightness to pre-race hairstyle tutorials (spoiler: the mullet is totally aero, take it from Josh Amberger). This full-body flexibility routine from YouTuber Tom Merrick is a great place to start and only takes 20 minutes. 

  • Draw up a new race calendar. So your color-coded training plan and to-the-minute taper have been hindered, dare I say it decimated, by the Coronavirus. Instead of sulking about what could’ve been, draft up a new schedule focusing on the latter half of the season. Write it by hand and make it visual – this will keep the motivation high and provide a laser focus, at a time when everyone around you seems to be floundering around, pillaging the supermarket shelves of lentils like the echo of some post-apocalyptic blockbuster. If you can’t pin your hopes on an event, pencil in a bike trip or epic lake swim with your mates. That’s sure to stave off this doom and gloom! 

  • Suit up! Ironically, getting in amongst the chlorine is one of the safest places to see out the storm. Public changing rooms, however, are a virus’ favorite haunt, meaning your local pool is probably closed for the foreseeable. Of course, I’d implore you to act responsibly and in compliance with advice from the relevant authorities, but if you’re lucky enough to live near the coast or a swimming lake, it might be time to dust off the neoprene a month early! Zone3’s range of neoprene accessories, like Heat-Tech booties and gloves, will make that hair raising tip-toe into not-so-inviting waters a little bit more bearable. Still not convinced? Chuck a neoprene base layer and swim cap into the mix, plus a parka robe to wrap yourself up in post-swim, and you’re practically toasty

 

Keep calm and don’t lose sleep about your dwindling FTP! Us triathletes can be a highly strung bunch, but in all seriousness, the world doesn’t revolve around your training regime; a few months of lower volume probably won’t do you any harm in the long run. Put your feet up, pour yourself an ice-cold...protein shake, and simply allow your body to rid itself of the fatigue it’s accrued so far this season.