Can you still be a triathlete when there's no racing?

In Episode 106 of the MX Endurance podcast, our founder and four-time world champion Chris McCormack sat down with Tim Ford to chat about the state of affairs for triathlon amid a global pandemic.

Macca writes about why you should continue triathlon training even when there's no racing.

A lot of amateurs I speak to say the same thing, which I think is the biggest mistake they can make: “I’ve got nothing to train for so I’m not going to train anymore.” I say, what are the professionals doing right now? Technically, they don’t have to do anything. There’s no racing for a whole year so they can sit on their hands and do nothing. But if you follow them, every single one of them are training. Why? Because it’s more than the race.

Yes, I was one who used to identify by my racing, but while an event keeps our motivation and momentum in that training environment, we can pull it back a bit and focus on other things and embrace what being fit and part of this multisport community is all about, instead of defining it by “I’m an Ironman” or “I’m doing this race.”

Train for yourself. Why not train for yourself, for your mental health, to stay active and fit and not let this crisis conquer you by quitting? The social, mental and health benefits outweigh any lack of racing. Being active and fit is amazing. It is not until you lose that do you realise just how amazing and important it is.

I think it’s also an important time for us to set personal goals, not race goals and build on those weaknesses. And maybe you don’t need to be as driven; find some balance. Don’t quit on the community or the sport or the feeling because it’s so much more than a race number.

Train for the community you find in the sport. Look at other things that motivate you, the friendships you make in the sport. Look at MX and the conversations happening within our community and people meeting up to train together in a safe way; that is really cool and that’s what basically seeded triathlon in the first place, when triathlon clubs were the epicenter, not races. Maybe we’re going back to that and platforms like MX where we’ve got such a broad group of people coming from all over the world that come together for a common interest.

We have members of all levels from all over the world.

Train because it can be your comfort zone. I think as humans we’re driven by certainty; we feel more complete, more happy, more centred when there’s certainty. Training -- even when there’s no race that drives it -- has an element of certainty about it. You just get out and it is meditative.

In this uncertain world that doesn’t look the same as it used to be, focus on the things you can control and the things you’re fortunate about. You’ve got a roof over your head, you can enjoy life and get out and train and do the things you want to do. When you look at it that way, you can start to feel better again. It’s a rollercoaster because change in anyone’s life is hard, and this is forced change which none of us anticipated.

I’ve noticed it with myself; I was on this running rampage and then this crisis in Melbourne happened with new COVID cases triggering new restrictions on movement and travel. My shoulders dropped and it was like “here we go again.” I’ve got a mate I run with every day and for the last 10 days we were feeling demotivated, like what’s the point?

But I actually feel more negative, more depressed, more down, and I was so much more upbeat when I was moving.

So I’ve committed to not letting this thing conquer me. That’s been my change of attitude; don’t let it beat you. It’s not a competition with COVID; it’s a competition to move into this new reality in a more positive way and be light years down the track before other people who didn’t do it as effectively.

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