How to Train When Races Are Canceled

author : Team BT
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Triathlon Training During Covid-19: Strength instead of Swim, etc.

A major life accomplishment like a triathlon is not something we can get over quickly when circumstances change. If you've had your major race canceled due to coronavirus, it's a terrible feeling.

This isn't to say no one has ever felt this way before. Plenty of triathletes have experienced devastating injuries or unforeseen life circumstances that have forced them out of a race for which they've spent months training and preparing.

But this is a little different, because so many people are experiencing it at once. 

We are triathletes, and we are a tough and resourceful sort. So let's see what we can come up with:


Maintenance Plan, or Peak for Fun, Self-Supported?


If your race is cancelled in the middle of your training, you are faced with limited options. (None of these options will include quitting triathlon and retreating to the couch with ice cream!)

You could switch to a maintenance plan, working in the cross-training or strength training you always meant to do, and enjoying the low-stress of maintenance training during the summer. Here's a new article we've assembled about our maintenance training plan options, and how to modify them if you can't swim right now.

You could continue to work toward your peak fitness for your (now-canceled) race date, and enjoy the taper and enjoy how fit you are, take some recovery time, and plan for the fall or next year.

You could also consider the idea of creating a self-supported triathlon for yourself in your neighborhood or at a nearby waterway, if one is open for swimming. Many of us have made fools of ourselves practicing transitions in our front yards or at our local swimming hole. We've put together an article full of considerations and ideas for completing your race on your own, with no aid stations and no cheering crowds.


Swim Alternatives


The swim is the major element that has been disrupted (besides the races themselves). In many places, public pools remain closed. Some city pools have already announced they will not open this summer.

Here's a list of ways to compensate, none of which are as good as what we thought we would be doing back in January, but we do what we can:



  1. Investigate open water swimming options. Many people take a quick stock of open water swimming and conclude there's nothing viable near them. Now is the time to look closer. Is the state park beach open for swimming? Can you meet a friend and use a safety buoy and get in a good workout once a week? That's better than nothing.

  2. Rivers can be like endless pools, as long as you're safe about it. 

  3. Substitute strength workouts, especially those geared toward the swimming muscles, such as lat pulldowns and core exercises.

  4. If you're lucky enough to have a small private pool at your home or in the backyard, consider using bands or stretch cords to "swim in place" while tethered to the side.


These are strange times, but triathletes are nothing if not determined. 

Keep waking up in the morning and doing whatever exercise is permitted and practical. We will race again.

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date: April 30, 2020

Team BT