Who would’ve thought that the spring race you’ve been training for would be cancelled? All those early mornings or runs after work – what good is it now. All that focus, effort, and hard work. Now what? I have had a number of athletes come to me confused and not sure what to do. They were training for Boston or another spring race that had been cancelled or moved. They weren’t sure what to do from a training standpoint. Do you stop training if your race is cancelled? My short answer is – no way! I came up with a few ideas for how to keep training rolling, or how to refocus your efforts during this time of uncertainty.
1 – Keep training
It is not good news to hear that your goal race has been cancelled. The race that has been the fuel for your fire and getting you up and out the door each day will no longer be held. Don’t let this stop you. Think about it this way – what is training? Training is when we complete specific workouts to create physiological changes within our body to create a faster, stronger, and more efficient engine right? We do it to increase our fitness. Well then, why would you stop training? If endurance is not your strength and you were training for a marathon, then you may want to continue some of those marathon specific workouts. Most likely you were only a few weeks away from taper anyway so finish up your training cycle to reap the benefits of that specific type of training.
Additionally, continuing to run will help keep your immunity system boosted. Ever notice that when you taper you are more susceptible to colds and illness. Keep running and keep that immune system strong. You don’t need to over exert yourself in this time by completing strenuous workouts that may lower your defenses, but keeping some effort there and some solid miles can help keep both your mind and body healthier.
2 – Find another race
I have heard a lot of runners exchanging ideas for other races they might register for. That’s fine too if you’d like to pursue it that way and try to test the fitness that you’ve worked so hard to gain. Just be cautioned that other races may also end up being cancelled and you may wind up in the same position. Also, do we really “need” to test it? Training usually provides a decent indicator of where our fitness is. You don’t have to race to test it. Continue to build on the fitness you gained and set your sights on something farther out – like the summer or fall.
3 – Carry it forward
Take the hard work you put in and think about it as work in the bank and carry it forward. Just because you didn’t race doesn’t mean you will lose the fitness you worked hard for. The nice thing about running is that we continue to build upon it. That’s why we want to remain injury free so we can continue to build one training cycle upon the next. Nothing is wasted only fitness gained.
4 – Take a needed break
Maybe you have done a lot of racing and training and as a result you haven’t been able to properly recover between races or training cycles. This could be a good time to take time off and allow your body to get strong and recover properly before starting another training block. Depending on what type of race(s)/training you do or did more recently, you can take anywhere from 7-14 days off to let your body recover.
5 – Cross train
If you decide you are going to take a needed break, you could use your time off of running to cross train. Strengthen areas you feel you could use improvement in! I love this part of the recovery process. It gives me a chance to refresh and do other activities that I enjoy! I like to get a few good spin workouts in during this time and even a few long swims in the pool. Breaks in training are also the perfect time to do some strength training. I hear runners say they never have time to strength train…..hmmmm…how about now! If you aren’t familiar with what exercises to do reach out to me! I LOVE this stuff and can provide you with some tips of how to approach the gym if you aren’t a regular there. Oh and well, gyms are closed in some areas too. Good news is a lot of the foundational strength exercises can be done in your own home. Try some planks, side planks, squats, lunges, glute bridges….etc. There are endless exercises you can do at home with bodyweight or minimal equipment to enhance your strength. Cross training could be the missing factor you needed in your training to take it to the next level.
6 – Change your focus
All of my previous points involve a change in focus, but for this tip I mean your running focus. For example, if you’ve been doing a lot of marathon training, this could be a great time to try some shorter and faster intervals to focus back on speed versus long endurance type runs. Get on the track! And well, if the track is closed take it to your neighborhood. This is also a great time to get outdoors on the trails and enjoy the weather.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions. And maybe it created a few questions. I am always here to help with coaching, personal training, talking fitness tips and education! Reach out, let’s talk about it.
Strengthen YOUR Stride! I am here to help you move forward – smarter, stronger, faster. Be healthy!