Posted in Blog.
When All The Races Are Cancelled
With the COVID-19 threat growing, spring marathons are rapidly being cancelled or postponed, along with New York Road Runner races and seemingly any potential substitute for an original goal race. Already anxious about the spread of a dangerous illness, many of us now also have the disappointment of a goal being taken away. We want to share some tips for the unexpected racing desert that lies ahead.
- Even if you are injury-free, if you have been doing heavy training recently now is a smart time to back it off. Overtraining weakens the immune system, making us more susceptible to colds, the flu, and other viruses.. Exercising moderately is one of the best ways to boost your immune system, prepping the body to be 100% ready to fight off whatever comes its way and ensuring you will be ready to resume serious training later.
- Use this time to let nagging injuries heal completely. A silver lining of this forced racing hiatus could be that you get 100% healthy so you can train and race at your best later in the year. Remember – oftentimes rest alone does NOT heal soft tissue injuries. Check in with your physical therapist for an appropriate regimen including strength and mobility work, as well as proper techniques for self-myofascial release (think: foam rolling) to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success!
- Take advantage of temporary flexibility in your daily life if you have it. Working from home on a flexible schedule? On a day when it’s going to be a chilly 35 degrees at 7 PM, it might be a balmy 50 degrees at 2 PM. Take advantage if you can!
- For those who are still going into work, run-commute to avoid the subway. With the days getting longer and warmer, this can be a nice option during any spring season. Right now it brings the added benefits of social distancing, helpful for us and our fellow New Yorkers trying to get to work.
- Consider training as if this were off-season or pre-season. Typically, long-term training cycles progress from less race-specific activities in the pre-season (e.g. long slow distance, short top-end speedwork, hill sprints and strength training) toward more race-specific activities as we peak for our goal race (lots of race pace running!). Ordinarily, if a goal race like the NYC Half or Boston Marathon were cancelled, a reasonable adjustment would be to try to continue those race-specific workouts to peak for an alternate race happening just a week or two later. With most or all spring races in jeopardy, however, our alternate races are likely months away. In that case, continuing peak-type workouts for months on end is more likely to end in injury than in a successful race. Instead, consider changing up your training significantly in what is now effectively a new pre-season. On nice days do some run-commuting to build your base. On rainy days stay home and spend your time stretching, foam rolling, or doing some lightweight strength training!
- Develop your mental strength as a solo runner. Some of us love running alone and others don’t. Either way, being able to focus and persevere alone is a skill that can serve us well in some race settings. If you are forced to do some hard workouts on your own, embrace the challenge and try to build your solo mental toughness. See if you can find strategies – from mantras to visualization to music – to help you push yourself when there isn’t a running companion or competitor to do it.
- Change gears. One way to accomplish the training shift described above is to temporarily step away from the distance you have been emphasizing and insert a block of training for a very different distance. If you were preparing for the Boston Marathon, now rescheduled for September, here’s an idea: switch to 5k/10k training for the remainder of the spring and summer. You’ll feel speedy and refreshed when it’s time to resume marathon training in the summer.
- Remember the journey – all of the training you’ve done up until this point is NOT for void – you are a stronger, tougher runner than you were when you began your training cycle, and those 20 milers that you toughed out in the dark days of January will still be a part of YOU as a runner in September – the mental toughness gained, the knowing your body, the testing of proper pacing, fueling, gear, etc. There WILL be another opportunity to show what you’re made of!
- Remember the big picture. Running is just one part of your life. Take care of yourself and be intentional about finding new ways to stay connected with those you care about, even if it isn’t face to face. Don’t let social distancing lead to loneliness. And keep doing the things you love, including running!
“From a runner’s standpoint, consistency in training is the single most important thing that leads to success. That consistency come from concentrating on the task at hand — neither dwelling on the past nor looking too far forward. The only thing you can control is the present, and when you focus on that and remain consistent in your training, you’ll find your greatest success” – Jack Daniels