COVID-19 - what a blow to early season racing! At least that’s what a lot of triathletes, runners, and cyclists are thinking right now as races around the country continue being postponed and canceled (for more on races canceled due to COVID-19, see our most recent blog post). But according to professional triathlete Jen Reschke, there is a multitude of ways this can actually be beneficial to racers around the world. By ‘staying in the moment’ and focusing on what we can achieve day-to-day, rather than worrying about when our next race will be, she says we can effectively train and stay engaged when so many other things feel uncertain.
Jen is right there with the rest of us. With her first three races of the season getting cancelled and a fourth one in limbo, she gets it - it is hard to shift the mindset when you had big goals for an early season race! She even admits it took her a bit to shift her mindset once races started getting canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because she was targeting some big performances at back-to-back early season races, her mind was already in build mode and she found herself wanting to keep training in a building phase even after their cancellation. And though she recognized it wasn’t sustainable, she found herself questioning what was best for her during this training transition.
However, a natural optimist and intrinsically motivated, Jen was able to shift her mindset - reminding herself that this extra time in the early season gave her more time to focus on swim strength (on land, of course), mobility, and small intermediary goals across each discipline.
While she has shifted into more of a maintenance phase, she is finding much reward in the opportunity to simultaneously get stronger and have more rest. She is working hand-in-hand with her coach to stay in the moment, receiving her workouts the day before they are scheduled so she can really center herself each day on the task-at-hand, something she thinks could also be beneficial for other athletes right now. She says she is balancing her training by alternating easy endurance and top-end strength work every other day, allowing her body ample time to recover while also gaining some new high-end strength.
Jen is doing a lot of different things to keep herself motivated and progressing, despite the uncertainty of her 2020 race season, and she has offered her top three tips for other athletes to do the same.
- Mix it up! Take advantage of this extra time you have to incorporate something new into your training routine. It is a perfect time to explore new activities you have always wanted to try (gravel riding, anybody?), and since most of us also have lots of extra time on our hands, we have the opportunity to incorporate more functional strength, yoga, mobility, and physical therapy exercises into our daily routines.
- Get into something that allows you to gain fitness but isn’t on your TT bike or the track! Think mountain biking, gravel riding, trail running, and hiking…even picking up garbage on the side of the road would be a great lower body strength session! Jen says one thing she is thinking about trying out is cold water swimming - do any of our readers dare to do the same?
- Find one or two training buddies you can train with! Since we are all under such strict social distancing protocols, training can feel kind of lonely. But if you can find one person to stick with through the coming weeks or months, it provides a more social aspect to training - which is critically important to keeping us engaged!
To finish, Jen reminds us that, because we don’t know what races will be coming, it is imperative we focus on what we can do right now. Not only will it keep you focused and engaged on your training day-to-day, but it will also eliminate a lot of extraneous stress about when races will be happening. We cannot control when races will start again, but we can control our effort, our focus, and how we react to the uncertainty - so just like on race day, we need to keep moving forward.