Triathlon training motivation: How can I beat a training dip?

Even seasoned triathletes are prone to suffering from mental and physical slumps from time to time. But, as six-time Ironman world champ and coach Dave Scott explains, a few simple tweaks to your regime can minimise the impact and have you fighting fit again in no time.

Triathlete training off-road



A mental dip makes you feel tired and heavy; sleep becomes restless, you feel anxious and overall motivation is low. To get out of that spiral, use this training block:

Days 1-3: Exercise for 20mins per day, forgetting your usual schedule. Think that’s too short? Even within a 20min session, endorphins will kick in, and your breathing rate and body temperature will rise. Plan your daily exercise times, writing them down so that you’re not tempted to miss one. Stick to one discipline – and drop the gadgets!

Days 4-5: Do two disciplines, and aim for 45mins to 2hrs per session, depending on what you’re training for and your usual load.

Days 6-7: Go back to your training plan and do what’s there, but without being obsessed with times, power, speed or heart rate.

Day 8: You should be mentally ready to dive back into your routine!


Try different routes for your bike and run, or reverse the direction of your normal routes. Also, don’t wear earphones or have music on – wake up to your senses and be present with your surroundings. Take some risks with your training and do something different for once.


Look at your fears and decide what you can and can’t control. Also take the opportunity to ask other athletes how they’re doing with their training. Don’t be so myopic with your internal doldrums. You’ll be surprised – even when you just share a bit of vulnerability, you’ll feel better.


Don’t overeat, drink too much alcohol or weigh yourself in this recovery period.


One for next January, but remember not to just set yourself lofty objectives – otherwise, when things get tough, it’ll feel like you’re facing an impossible task. You should set long-term goals (‘A’ and ‘B’ races for the year), but also some short-term ones. The latter should be set every 10-14 days, and will be key to beating your demons and maintaining focus when the big goals become a mental mountain. Stick them somewhere you can see them, too, so that you remain focused.

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Finally… don’t be so bloody serious about it all! Laugh at yourself and add some levity to your low point
in training.

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