Triathlon Training Plans | Adjusting for postponed races

Pro Triathlete Tom Davis was due to start his 2021 season with Challenge Miami in March, but faced last-minute cancellation just 3 days before the race as he was not allowed to travel due to COVID restrictions.  Unfortunately race cancellation or postponement is something that almost all athletes will face this season, so here Tom shares his thoughts (and experience!) on how to deal with the bad news...

How to Adjust Triathlon Training for Postponed

by Tom Davis

With the current global situation, it's inevitable that races will be postponed.  Even this year, it's highly likely that some races will still be moved due to local circumstances. So what do you do, especially if it's your main target?

How to adapt if your triathlon race is cancelled

The first thing to do is to accept that everyone is in the same boat.  As frustrating as it is, all the competitors at that race will be feeling the same, and will likely hear about the cancellation at the same time.  That means that you're all in the same boat, and all on an even playing field.  It's all about what you do with that time until the rearranged date that matters.  Bear in mind though, that everybody will react differently to cancellations, and will have different feelings and circumstances, and this is where a coach can really help, both formulating a new plan, and how best to adjust the current training, to get you to the new start line in the best shape.

Triathlon Training Plan | Race Cancellation Adjustments

Triathlon Training Plan Adjustments

A lot of this advice depends on how far away that race is, and also how long it has been delayed, so below I'll try and give some general tips and tricks on what to do for some different circumstances, if you are self coached, or just to consider as you look for something to fill the void left from that cancelled event.

If the race is cancelled with less than 14 days to go…

  • This probably has to be the worst case, but as most of the work had been done, and you were likely starting to ease off towards race day, I'd take an easy week as planned.  If you crack on with training straight away, you could end up extending the training block and potentially end up really tired and lacking that power to execute the sessions, or at worst, overtraining.

If the race is cancelled more than 14 days out

  • Although it'll be a disappointment for most, appreciate the fact that the organisers have taken a very tough call, and have tried to give you as much notice as feasibly possible.  First thing is to check if the new date fits.  If it does then it's time to shift the plan round slightly, but if not, then maybe it's time to look for a different challenge, or find another race that satisfies those goals to keep you motivated.

Triathlon Training Plan | Race Cancellation Adjustments

    If the race is delayed by less than a month

    • Great - there's not long to wait.  On the other hand, this can be an awkward amount of time to stay in form.  The best advice I can give here, is to have a couple of easy days around the time the event would have been, as an end to the training block that would have led up to the race.  Then you should be fresh and ready to hit the final few weeks, so it's time to repeat the final 3 weeks that you've just done.  At the end of the day, if that's what you believed would deliver you to the line in the best shape, then why change it.  Maybe you can push the numbers up a few watts, and hit that line even fitter than you would have done.

    If the race is postponed by 2-3 months

    • The likelihood is that with this time scale, it's very hard to hold your peak form.  I'd recommend dropping back to a ‘base’ or winter phase for a month or so, to top up that aerobic fitness, and push back the key 8-week build of more intense sessions towards that new date.

    If the race is postponed by longer than 3 months

    • The likelihood is that you will need something in this time to keep you motivated.  Here, I'd either recommend looking for some fun events to keep you motivated, or maybe taking a little bit of unstructured time to mentally reset so that you are ready to go when the time is right.


    I hope that helps, and as I say, this won't work for everyone, but hopefully can give a starting point to move forward.

    Triathlon Training Plan | Race Cancellation Adjustments


    About Tom Davis

    Tom has a number of podium finishes to his name, despite being relatively early in his pro career.  Most notably he took gold in the Royal Windsor Triathlon (for the second time) and second at Ironman 70.3 Gdynia, where he beat two-time Kona winner Patrick Lange into third place.

    Tom then finished 12th at the PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona, having climbed to 7th on the bike then taking the lead on the run for a while.  He was unable to take part in his Challenge Miami due to an inconclusive COVID test stopping him flying, so he is ready and raring to go at Challenge Gran Canaria next week!

    Read more about Tom and follow his latest race results at his PTO profile.