1. Align your performance goals with training partners (even from a distance)
Once the pandemic hit and all races disappeared from the calendar, my coach had everyone in our training group (Mountain South Elite) adjust their short-term goals to running fast in a series of time trials.
Whereas normally, we each have different racing schedules, Coach intentionally synced us up to foster unity even while training remotely. That way we could feel together in spirit throughout the process -- on any given workout day, we could visualize a teammate doing the same work, at the same time, with the same end goal in mind. Then when we were finally able to showcase our fitness in the time trials, it was a mutual celebration of both the journey and the outcome.
Anyone who has ever participated in a team sport knows: there’s nothing quite as energizing as pursuing a goal alongside a teammate. Set up a Zoom call or group chat with your training partners and discuss a collective performance goal that excites you all -- a virtual 5k run, virtual time trial, or even a safe in-person event. Then create a training plan that you each can follow. As you train remotely, imagine one another’s presence. Check in and encourage one another along the way.
2. Channel teammates’ strengths on hard days
Along the same lines, on the particularly challenging days, mentally channel your training partners’ strengths. As you workout, imagine a specific person and what help they would provide if they were with you in that moment.
One day last fall I was alone for a 7-mile tempo, and needed a psychological technique to help me manage such a long period of focus. Every few miles, I imagined a teammate alongside me.