Motivation. It’s a tricky thing because some days you have it, and some days you don’t. It comes and goes, sometimes on its own whim, leaving you to pick up the pieces.
This year has been unlike any other in recent history. With most large-scale racing postponed until 2021, it’s caused numerous triathletes to reconsider how they approach training and racing. For many, this has caused peaks and valleys in motivation - an exhausting seesaw of emotional highs and lows.
Dr. Jamie Shapiro CMPC of Sport & Performance Excellence Consultants and Co-Director of the Sports Psychology Masters Program at the University of Denver weighed in on how triathletes can prepare themselves to have a strong second half of 2020 and kick off 2021 with renewed optimism.
The first thing Dr. Shapiro suggests practicing is acceptance. Acceptance of the current situation, acceptance of where you’re at mentally and physically, acceptance that the future may not look the same as the past.
“When those thoughts of ‘I just want it to go back to the way it was’ creep in, remind yourself that it’s okay to have those thoughts,” said Dr. Shapiro. “It’s okay to wish things were different - and they are different.”
If getting stuck in a thought cycle reminiscing on how things were is something you find yourself in, try to start by taking stock of how you’re spending your mental energy.
“We only have so much mental energy,” said Dr. Shapiro. “Are you spending it productively?”
Dr. Shapiro notes that a “productive” mindset is not necessarily one that feigns a positive attitude (unless that’s what you’re genuinely feeling). A “productive” mindset does not mean you need to convince yourself to love a situation or outcome - forcing yourself to love a scenario can often only lead to embitterment or anxiety down the line. It’s okay to feel what you’re actually feeling!
A “productive” mindset means you’re actively practicing acceptance and self-compassion in a way that best serves you. Maybe this looks like jotting down things that have gone well lately, or things you’re looking forward to in the future. Or perhaps this means committing to a virtual workout with a friend. Or chatting with your coach about a new way to approach training if you’re feeling burned out. Now that’s what we call productive.
While you’re getting reacquainted with that productive mindset, it’s time to think about those goals, too. Goal digging can be fun, even with no major races on the horizon. But first, give yourself some time to process the fact that there’s absolutely no manual for how to emotionally handle large-scale event cancellations.
“Go ahead and let yourself feel that grief,” said Dr. Shapiro. “I don’t think pushing those difficult emotions away is helpful. Instead, lean into those emotions. Then, work on redefining your goals.”
Dr. Shapiro notes that having races cancelled can really mess with one’s athlete identity. We see ourselves as fierce, race-ready triathletes, but with no races, who are we? Plot twist: you’re still all of those things! You just need goals that help you feel that way.
Focusing on goals that are more intrinsic (i.e. internally-facing) vs. extrinsic (i.e. externally-facing) can help realign your values and reconnect you to your “why.” These values might be health, community, joy of challenge, etc. The options are endless!
Going back to Dr. Shapiro’s note on the athlete identity - now is a fantastic time to work on the other identities in your life: a partner, sister, mother, daughter, friend, colleague, volunteer. We so often get wrapped up in our athletic identity (and that’s ok!), that it can feel like a “failure” to not give that identity our all.
But it is critical to nurture the other important identities in our lives. So go ahead, plan that physically-distanced date night, send your sibling a care package, volunteer to get someone groceries. Give those identities their time in the spotlight!
At Coeur, since we can’t be bringing our usual party atmosphere and good vibes to race expos, we’ve been upping our design game and keeping our attention on the things that bring us joy.
The design team is still getting inspiration from every nook and cranny life offers, whether that’s a gorgeous summer morning in L.A. or head-banging rock music at HQ. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and dang do we believe that!
“What I love from our expanding group of ambassadors, Collective Beat members, customers, and friends is that they continually inspire us,” said Kebby Holden, founder of Coeur. “Coeur has always had a definitive aesthetic but we also ask for feedback and input - we welcome that.”
The Collective Beat is our Community of Supportive & Encouraging Women
Kebby also notes that what matters most to her and Coeur are the incredible people in the tri community. Without big races, PR’s, or KQ’s, it can be hard to find connection and things to celebrate. But from Coeur’s kickass staff to meeting new friends on social media, we’ve come to realize that while racing is amazing, we’re so lucky to have a fantastic community, no matter what.
If you’re looking for the ultimate kick-it-into-high-gear kind of training, check out Coeur’s Virtual Velo Club. Our very own Coach Jess Smith has recruited insanely talented coaches to lead virtual rides - and the club is open to everyone!
We’ve also reopened our Collective Beat Team membership registration until August 15th - so join now to get an instant tri family of other incredibly kind, fun women!
Just know we’ve got your back, and will keep having your back all the way through to your next finish line (and the one after that, and the one after that… you get the point). See you on Zwift!
About the Author
Kristin is a part-time writer and full-time marketer who has completed eight Ironman races to date. When she isn't hustling from work to training, she is hiking in the Colorado mountains, spoiling her two cats, or chowing down on some pizza with her husband. Kristin currently resides in the Greater Denver Area. Feel free to drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.