How to Take Your Triathlon Club Virtual

Social distancing doesn't mean the camaraderie that comes with a triathlon club has to be put on hold.

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As we’re all dealing with unprecedented times, connecting as a triathlon club can feel like a low priority right now. The best thing we can do with our club-mates right now is to not get together. Seriously, don’t be those athletes that are still out running and riding in groups. While social distancing is an absolute must, connecting as a club can be a healthy way for athletes to stay motivated and sane. Here, a few local triathlon clubs share the successful virtual things they’ve done to stay connected over the last few weeks.

Start with Community

Tim Myers, the General Manager of Atlanta Triathlon Club, went live on Facebook inside of the club’s closed group on the first day the club ceased all group activities. It was just meant to be a one-time update to the club, but members responded in such a positive way that Tim now does short live updates every day in the Facebook group.

“Now people look forward to the daily updates and will interact with each other while I’m live. It’s just a little way to stay in front of the group and keep morale high in uncertain times,” says Myers.

In addition to the daily Facebook Live sessions by Tim, coaches can go live to explain workouts, lead sessions, and they’ve even hosted Netflix Watch parties using the Google Chrome extension. For club member Jennifer Donald, having the daily connections has been something positive in her day. “Even though I can’t do most of the workouts, I really enjoy the daily interaction.”

Don’t underestimate how much little points of connection can help the morale of your club members during this time.

Find Ways to Add Value and Keep Your Members Motivated

With races being canceled and many people working from home while balancing families, it’s easy for training to fall to the wayside. Most athletes are feeling the sting of closed pools so Kristan Huenink and her team at Multisport Mastery + JHC Coaching are hosting The Dryland Challenge. They have created a YouTube channel with over 70 different strength training exercises, most of which do not require any equipment. Athletes participating in the challenge may choose any five swim-specific exercises from the video library and perform them for a total of 15 minutes, four days each week, to be entered into a weekly drawing for a gift card of their choice. In conjunction with the Dryland Challenge, they are offering Dryland Challenge strength sessions led by a different coach each day via Facebook Live.  

“Our goal with the Dryland Challenge is to help athletes engage and strengthen the muscles used in swimming, retain a feel for their stroke and keep moving in a forward direction for the upcoming race season. We are passionate about educating, engaging, and coaching athletes to be the best they can be in whatever they choose to do,” says Heunick.

You may not have the capacity to create something from scratch and that’s okay. Use available technologies like Zwift to host group rides or pick an easy-to-implement training program or challenge and follow it together.

Make it Fun

Triathletes thrive on two things: competition and workout selfies. You can use an existing platform like Strava to create your virtual competition or even to join in a competition that is currently running. Almost 100 members of Atlanta Tri Club had planned to race the 70.3 in Haines City Florida in honor of Bethany Rutledge, a club member who unexpectedly passed away last November. The race was recently postponed with no new date, but the club has decided to honor her with virtual Ride Across America. Starting on the west coast, teams will race across the country seeing which team can cumulatively bike to the race destination the fastest.

Don’t feel the pressure to create such an elaborate competition—you can make it fun by including your club members in the multiple competitions going around on Instagram (like the pushup competition). You could add some funny photo competitions like “Best Quarantine Workout Hair” or “Training with Pets/Kids.” Reach out to your club sponsors and see if they’ll offer some prizes for your competitions. Even though sponsors are likely tightening the budget on dollars they can give right now, they are trying to find ways to stay engaged with their clubs.

Be Consistent

By now we all recognize that this isn’t going away in just a few weeks. Your club is going to need consistency for the long haul so as you create programs, keep it manageable. As much as we want to serve our club members during this time, we also have to be aware of our life situation. Lean on your coaches, board members, or key members to help you. 

Also, communicate regularly with your club. People understand that the situation changes quickly and you may lose a few members during this time. But if your members feel like you have consistently communicated with them, they’ll be more likely to stay.

Although this time is challenging and it’s different than we expected 2020 to be, good can come out of this. Your club will find new ways to engage members. New leaders will rise to the top. Memories will be made. Your club may even find itself emerging stronger than ever before. And it’s safe to say we’re going to appreciate those group workouts and race-day get togethers more than ever before.

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