As triathletes we enjoy the training process as much as the event itself. Whether we admit it or not we do or else why would we spend so many countless hours for something that lasts relatively a very short period of time? For example, most triathletes will spend 6-9 months training for something that lasts less than a day or 6-9 weeks on a race that lasts 2 hours.
However, one phase of training I have noticed is sorely lacking. Adversity training. What do I mean ? I have noticed that many triathletes will choose their particular training on a specific day based on what the conditions are. They will run in the dark to avoid the heat. They will figure out their bike route so to avoid as much headwind as possible or skip the ride all together if it is raining. If the water is choppy many people will skip the open water swim and head to the pool instead.
Now, let me say this first, that a person’s safety and well being is of utmost importance. Don’t be foolish. If there is lightning take shelter. If it is hot make sure you are hydrated and keep up with the electrolytes. If the lake, river or sea is so rough that swimming is banned, yes, go to the pool.
Be smart, not foolish.
With that being said the more challenging the training is the more we will benefit not only physically, but mentally as well. Being able to cope with adversity in a proactive manner can mean the difference between a DNF and a PR. So do train when the conditions a less than ideal. Be glad to have the opportunity to do so. If it is raining take some air out of your tires for better grip and outfit yourself properly and head out. If the sun is blazing bring water and electrolytes with, slow the pace down, but head out running with walk breaks if necessary. There is no shame in that. Whether on a bike or run bring cash with you, so you can go into a gas station or whatever and re-stock your nutrition. If the water is somewhat rough go and swim with a training buddy or buddies, stay close to shore and have fun.
Your swim pace will obviously slow down, but you will be able to improve, for example, your breathing. You might have to breath on the side that you are not comfortable with because of the waves. Great training. Remember race conditions can very often be less than ideal, so be prepared. If you get a flat don’t call someone to pick you up. Have the tools and tubes with you and fix it yourself. The more often you do it the better at it you will be. On race day this ability could certainly save the day.
You have too much money invested in this sport to leave things to chance.
Embrace bad training conditions as a friend giving you some tough love lessons. It might suck at the time, but the experience you gain and your body’s improved conditioning because of it will be well worth it. Remember, if race conditions deteriorate you are prepared and if they are ideal you will have a breeze of a race. It is like running uphill and than having the good fortune of running on a flat surface or cycling into headwind and then all of sudden getting tailwind.
Be smart ! However, don’t let adversity hold you back. Use it to your advantage by training in and with it. Most people don’t.
And don’t forget to smile when you pass them on the course !
USAT Florida Region Board Member