1) Recycle your training: We all love recycling, so here’s how to do it in running. Say it’s race week, and your race gets cancelled. If you jump straight back into training for a new race that is say, 10 weeks out, you will have effectively added 50-100% to the length of your training block without a recovery period, and will probably burn out before you get to the next starting line. We often think of recovery as recovery from the race itself, but recovery is much more about resting and rebuilding from the 10-20 week training block you just did. Regardless of if you actually raced or not, you deserve (and need) rest from this hard training. So, unless you find a race that is 1-3 weeks out, you should probably take a little break, but not as much as you would have taken had you raced. Reduce your volume and intensity for 1-3 weeks. Taking a few “down” weeks with reduced volume and intensity will allow the body to recover with very little fitness lost. Because your rest period wasn’t 2 weeks totally off, you will be able to jump right back into training at a similar fitness level while being fully rested, allowing you to pile on another 10 weeks of hard training and experience additional improvement. To summarize, smart training is like taking 4 big steps forward, racing and recovering is like taking 2 (very necessary) steps backward. If you skip the race, still take the recovery period, and get back into training its like taking 1 or no steps backward.
2) Find an adventure or race: Get creative, there is probably a route, mountain, loop or FKT you have had in the back of your mind. Get out and do it! You have a free day, your plans literally just got cancelled! Don’t you have a trail you have been itching to explore? There is likely another race within the next few weeks, probably won’t be the exact same distance or terrain, but hey, maybe you will surprise yourself. Was your 50K cancelled? Try a road marathon. Marathon cancelled? Test your speed at a 1/2 marathon! Be flexible and you will probably surprise yourself with your fitness.
3) Be Flexible: Know that cancelled races are always a possibility, of course you want to put 100% of your focus and effort into your event, but having a back up plan in the case of cancellation, injury or training hiccup, can be helpful.
Finally, and hopefully without getting too philosophical, a cancelled race can be a great reminder to keep running in perspective and to enjoy the process of training. A race can be a great motivator and goal, but remember to enjoy the daily grind.
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