With spring races cancelled or postponed across the globe because of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, runners may find themselves fit without an event at which to toe the line. What’s more, as schools and businesses close, and communities urge citizens to practice social distancing in order to curb the virus’s spread, we’re forced to approach fitness differently. If you had a big goal race on the calendar that just got canceled, what do you do instead?
Here are five things to do when your race is canceled.
It’s important to give yourself time to process the change. When you’ve been narrowly focused on your goal race, dealing with the change may not be easy. And that’s OK.
Mark Driscoll, a running coach in Asheville, North Carolina, says, “With races off the table, it will take some time to regroup. It’s OK to be frustrated, disappointed and upset about cancellations, while also recognizing that the cancellations were necessary.”
If you’re healthy, It’s also a good time to simply keep doing what you were already doing: running (while maintaining a safe distance from others). “Keep the routine going,” says Driscoll. “Use your runs for self-care to relieve stress, clear your head and have some fun during a time that feels anything but.”
Dr. Stephen Gonzalez, a mental performance consultant at Dartmouth College, stresses the importance of gratitude and looking for the opportunity in the situation.
He says while it’s healthy to strive toward a goal, we sometimes lose sight of all of the things we currently have. In times of uncertainty, says Gonzalez, “I like to think of gratitude as a safety net for us all to avoid truly hitting rock bottom.”
From there, he says, “Reconnect with your ‘why’ and move forward with a greater sense of love and joy for running. Rather than focusing on an accomplishment or an outcome, let it be a process of pushing yourself and adapting to what life throws at you.”
This one is probably going to test your patience, so it’s a good one to tackle after taking a deep breath and resetting. Also, airline and travel companies are inundated with cancelation requests from distressed travelers everywhere. Thankfully, many are offering travel vouchers if not refunds.
Also, if your travel cancelation isn’t urgent (more than 72 hours away), consider holding off on your cancelations to give travelers with more urgent itineraries a chance to sort things out first.
“If you’re itching to test yourself, plan out a time trial on a familiar course or make an attempt on a well-known Strava segment,” says Driscoll. “Keep in mind, it’s not going to be possible to recreate the excitement of the final turn onto Boylston Street in the Boston Marathon, but there is still some satisfaction in seeing a fast mile split pop up on your watch.”
Also, be sure to read the fine print about your race cancelation or postponement. Some events are offering virtual challenges instead. This could be an opportunity to try something totally new and still run a PR, or feel a part of a community in a unique way.
While practicing social distancing, it’s still important to exercise, even if you can’t join your friends at the gym or your regularly scheduled training program. But so much alone time can take a toll on your mental health.
“Spending time journaling and practicing short bouts of mindfulness throughout the day can help center you around your feelings and thoughts to make sense of them and understand your current state,” says Gonzalez. “So, focus on what you can do that you might neglect otherwise to be better prepared to resume training.”
Gonzalez also recommends working on flexibility, mobility and strength over vigorous exercise, especially if you’re at risk for infection.
Take time to do more of what you love. Driscoll recommends incorporating more play into your daily running regiment in the short term. If you don’t like long runs, ditch ‘em for now. Want to throw in an interval here or there? Have at it. Prefer to hit the trails? Perfect. Bottom line is simply moving for fun, and moving because you love to run.
Looking for more motivation? Check out our article about our favorite podcasts for working out at home.
By Ashley Arnold. Ashley has been running competitively since 2000. She went from winning the high school 300m hurdle state championship as a sophomore in 2002 to breaking the tape at the Leadville Trail 100 in 2013. Now, her full time role is managing content as the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Fleet Feet.