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Race Cancellations and Postponements – How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Canceled or Postponed Races: How to Cope with Emotions and Training Adjustments in Uncertain Times

Many of us are reeling from the news that our goal races have been canceled or postponed in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus health crisis. Questions abound and anxiety can soar surrounding all of the uncertainty, our lack of control, and the threat to something we value. Here are some things we can do to take control of our emotions and implement training adjustments if needed for a possible transition toward a new race date.

Acknowledge and Feel your Reactions and Emotions

You may be feeling any or all of these valid emotions (and more) as you deal with race updates and news:

  1. Anger

  2. Anxiety

  3. Confusion

  4. Discouragement

  5. Frustration

  6. Resentment

  7. Exhaustion

  8. Defeat

It’s totally ok to feel those. Be true to your feelings, but when/if you’re ready, consider some of the following approaches to channel your emotions so that they can actually benefit you right now.

Step back to reflect and appreciate

A race cancellation or postponement can help us to understand just how meaningful running and racing is to us and it gives us a chance to realign and assess our underlying ‘why’. Why we sign up for events in the first place? Why does pushing our limits lead to improved quality and connection in life? This larger perspective can help put our training in a context where we can still appreciate the benefits and opportunities even if a specific race is cancelled or postponed.

Establish your circle of control

Anxiety can be an attempt to control something that is inherently outside of our control. If your race hasn’t been canceled, maintain focus on the day-to-day process. If it has been canceled, take the fitness you’ve forged in training and find a local event still being held—even if it’s not your desired distance. Recognize that your event will likely be back on the calendar again in the future, and you’ll have the chance to run with a renewed perspective as you find meaning in the process rather than the outcome.

Know how anxiety can build and head it off

If you’re a person who becomes anxious when reading through social media posts and online message boards you may want to limit your exposure. Consider picking just one or two trusted resources that offer factual information about the coronavirus in general, and the impact on the running community more specifically. Then be diligent about screening out all others.

Training Adjustments and Options

Please know this–Whatever training you’ve done to date has not been wasted. It was likely challenging and uncomfortable at times, and required plenty of self-discipline and commitment throughout. You’re a more accomplished person and athlete (fitter, stronger, faster) because of it. You own that accomplishment and pride…It’s yours alone, and nothing can take that away from you, even if you don’t cash in on your fitness through racing right now.

Solo Pursuits to Maintain Your Fitness

Until we can safely participate in group races again, here are some options.

Option 1:

Continue to follow your training plan, (running solo) if your race has been postponed and is within 4-6 weeks of your original race date.future.

Training Adjustment:  None required except for a possible changed end date for your training plan. If the race is within 4-6 weeks of your original race date, then you can typically get by with (gently) repeating the last few weeks of your original training plan before you started to taper.

Option 2:

Set up your own virtual run so that both you and your running friends can run solo, but compare notes and support each other after running the same distance from anywhere, nationally or even globally.

Option 3:

Get creative and expand your normal routine with any of these options that both supplement your run training and lend themselves beautifully to doing alone. Just be sure that if you’re heading outside, you’ve told someone where you’re going, and your estimated time of return.

Other Tips

Get outside with hiking, fitness walking, or Tai Chi. If you have children home from school for the duration, this is a great opportunity to simply get outside with them, spread out, and run, jump or skip to your heart’s content.

Keep it indoors and solo by checking out strength training routines that have minimal or no equipment needed. You can find yoga, jump roping, or Martial Arts routines online, If you need a few ideas of where to look, start with SIR’s own resource list of Free Workouts that you Can Do at Home.

Many local Physical Therapist practices will also have a range of safe and recommended stretch and strengthening routines on their websites.  

When life has enough challenges, we don’t necessarily need big running goals, but we still need running. There’s no reason to frantically try to fill the race void right away.  We don’t need to be in constant motion to be fabulous human beings, so stop, breathe, and try to remember that incredible strength can also lay quietly in the stillness.  All that we may need during these times of uncertainty is to simply make sure that running remains a thing of solace, a comfort, and a healing balm. The crowds, medals, and fanfare will always be right there waiting for us when the world has healed.


By Pam Landry

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