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Written By Kat Drew - April 12 2020
For most of us runners, COVID-19 has put a halt on our race goals for the foreseeable future. Many of us have spent countless hours putting in heavy training weeks, only to find out the big race day isn’t going to happen any time soon. You’ve been looking forward to this race for months, so what are you going to do with all of this built up fitness?
Firstly, you’re allowed to feel disappointed, angry, and sad. You had a big goal, were committed to a training schedule that involved sacrifices, and you worked hard to build your fitness. The only thing you should never feel is that you wasted your time, and that this was all for nothing. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished, and start thinking about what your new plan is during this strange new normal.
Embrace the Training JourneyHaving a goal race is great, but if the race is the only thing that matters in this whole process, then you are missing out on the entire point of the training journey. You spend the bulk of your time putting in the miles, and the race only takes up a tiny fraction of this. No matter the outcome, you have become a stronger runner and person through your commitment to running, and there are other ways to celebrate this effort.
Set Yourself a New ChallengeStill want to run on race day? Run the distance anyway, and challenge your friends to a virtual race so you have some accountability. When my goal race, Chuckanut 50k, was cancelled, the Race Director challenged us all to go out and run in the spirit of the race and share our stories on social media - it was a great way to feel connected to the community, and a huge motivator to get out and run that day. While you don’t get the same race day vibes, you do get to challenge yourself and celebrate your training.
Stick to Your ScheduleTraining gives you a routine, and as Jes wrote a few weeks ago, routine is important during times when everything else seems out of control. Just because your race isn’t happening, try not to fall completely off the wagon, instead modify depending on how you feel. If you’ve put in a few high mileage weeks, maybe now it’s time to take a week or two with low mileage. Or maybe anxiety and stress mean you need a few more miles to clear the mind. Do what works for you and your body, but be sure to not overthink or overdo it; the last thing you need right now is an injury.
Get Some RestIf you end up doing a supplemental race-day challenge, or you’ve put in some super high mileage weeks, don’t forget to take a break. You may feel exhausted at the end of the day even without running, thanks to this stressful situation and overwhelming news headlines everywhere; take time to recover and allow yourself to rest and recharge. If you’re anxious about rest days because running is your mental release, try going for a walk, or sit in the park to get some fresh air. Finding the balance of getting exercise but also giving the body & mind a chance to relax is key. Whatever you do to adjust your plan, never undervalue the work you have already put into training. Everyone adapts differently to these changes, so be sure to take time to reflect on how you feel, and don’t feel pressured to make new goals that don’t excite you. This won’t be forever, so allow yourself to get through it the best you can, and be kind to yourself throughout. Races will come back, and we will find ourselves celebrating with finish line beers before we know it!
Pandemic Running Rules