At the publication time of this post, many races were electively canceling or postponing due to the rapid spread of COV-19. Yet cancelled races are not unheard of, such as when the New York City Marathon canceled in 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy. What should you do if your race is cancelled?
Life goes on if a race is canceled, as does your training. Cancelled races are frustrating and disappointing, yet you can have alternative approaches to make the best of the situation.
Know that Your Training Has Not Gone to Waste
One of the hardest parts about a race being canceled is the letdown after intense preparation. You spent weeks, more likely months, waking up at 5 AM, putting in hard work, and logging countless miles. That hard work is not all lost just because your race is cancelled. You maintain that fitness whether or not you race.
Participate in a Virtual Race
Virtual races and Strava challenges abound during any time of year. If your race is canceled at the eleventh hour and you cannot find a back-up race, consider participating in a virtual race. You can still compete against other runners and often earn a medal or swag. Most virtual races support a good cause as well!
Another option is to host your own virtual race. Reach out to some of your virtual running friends and coordinate your own virtual race! You can start at the same time and run the same distance, such as a 5K or 10K. Use a hashtag to follow each others results and be sure to generously hand out kudos on Strava.
Do a Time Trial
Time trials are hard yet rewarding, just like a race. You can do a time trial as part of a virtual race, with a training buddy, or on your own.
A successful time trial is simple to execute. Map out a route before with minimal street crossings. First, warm up with a mile or two of easy running. Run your race distance (or shorter) at about 95% effort without any pauses. A time trial both serves as a fitness assessment and a workout in its own right.
A marathon or ultra time trial may be daunting, but you can still complete the distance on your own. That in itself is a rewarding challenge! Alternatively, if you don’t want to race a marathon of one, try a half marathon or 25k (~15 mile) time trial.
If the cancelled race was your first time running a certain distance, then try to run the distance on your own.
Host an Informal Fun Run
If it was a local race that was cancelled, put a call out on social media to other runners in your area. You can organize a fun or competitive (or both!) get together in place of a race. After the fun run, enjoy social time with other runners at a coffee shop or brewery.
Find a Back-Up Race
The exact logistics of a backup race vary wildly, depending on how much notice you have leading up to your canceled race and how far away your back-up race is. One big concern is overtraining; you do not want to end up doing too long of training block or go too many weeks without a cutback week. It is always, always better to be slightly undertrained than overtrained.
If you have already completed your peak week and begun your taper, you may want to focus on maintaining your fitness if your new race is just a week or two away. If your back up race is a month or two away, give yourself a cutback week or two and then focus on sharpening for your new goal race.
Have you ever had a race cancelled? What did you do?
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