How to Deal When Your Racing Buddy Bails

Buddies ditching your race? No problem. Here’s how to thrive when you’re tri-ing on your own.

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Buddies ditching your race? No problem. Here’s how to thrive when you’re tri-ing on your own.

You and your partner in crime came up with this race idea together. You signed up together. You got in a long run, talking the whole way about how you’d crush those final miles, how you’d celebrate post-race. Together. But bing bang, life happens, and you’re no longer part of a dynamic duo—you’re suddenly solo.

Racing solo, especially if you’d envisioned a shared experience, can knock the wind out of your training, but it can instead end up being a powerful confidence builder. Sports psychologist and triathlete Erin Ayala says it’s time to ex your mental muscles and rewrite the race script with a solo hero—you! Practicing self-reliance, physically and mentally, will bring that script to life on the big stage.

“First, find your ‘why,’” Ayala says. “Revisit why you signed up for the triathlon in the first place. Maybe it was the location, or the course, or a performance goal. Those factors have not changed and are still there for you.”

The athlete, Ayala says, needs to remind herself that she has put in the training, she is capable of doing the race, and she can achieve the goals on her own. “Thinking about the process, about all the training she’s already done, can be a powerful confidence builder,” Ayala says.

Having trouble getting in the last long workouts by yourself? “You may want to consider joining a local training group to help support you through the final bit. The accountability and social aspect really helps,” she says. Don’t focus on the negative—having to go it alone—but rather, picture yourself finishing on your own and how proud you’ll feel of being a kicking lone ranger.

Of course, on race day you’re not really going to be alone. Take advantage of your de facto crew. “The triathlon community is incredible,” Ayala says. “Other athletes, volunteers, spectators, and race officials are all there to support you.”

Two final confidence building tips for the solo racer? “Comb through the website so you fully understand instructions for packet pick-up, the swim/bike/run course, and the transition area,” Ayala says. “And if possible, run or ride the course, or part of the course, by yourself before the race. Then you have, in fact, done part of the race alone. It reduces anxiety and builds self-confidence.”

Partner acts are fun, but stepping up as a solo performer can reveal strength you never realized you had and give your self-image a boost.

RELATED: The 5 Training Buddies Every Triathlete Needs

The Pros of Going Solo

  • Nobody snoring you awake during your pre-race slumber
  • Getting up exactly when you want to
  • No pre-race jitter amplification
  • The hotel toilet is all yours race morning
  • You’ll wind up making new, rad tri friends

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