Race Canceled! How to adjust your training

Your race has been canceled! Yikes! What should you do! Here are a few ideas for when your race gets canceled.

ALERT! Here is my video for 2020 Boston Marathoners on how to adjust your plan. 

 

Option 1: Find another race of the same distance in the near future.

Training adjustment: None required except for a possible end date change of your plan. If the race is within 4-6 weeks of your original race date, then you can usually get by with repeating your last few weeks of training. Just don’t push too hard in the weeks you are repeating as your body is close to peaking. See the Run Team Resources for the video on how to update your start/end date.

Option 2: Find another race of a similar distance. A good example is if you were training for a marathon, try to find a half-marathon.

Training adjustment: None if the new race is near your original race date. If the race is a few weeks after your original race date, then switch to training for the new race distance. Using the example above, you would move from a marathon training plan to a half-marathon training plan for the last few weeks before your new half-marathon race.  See the Run Team Resources for the how-to video and add a new race plan for the new race via https://log.finalsurge.com/McMillanRunTeam/Plans.

Option 3: Find another race of any distance within a few weeks. It’s tough to waste great fitness so jumping in any race is a good option.  A good example is if you were training for a half-marathon, try to find a 5K or 10K.

Training adjustment: Either keep the same plan and race the new race distance off of that other race training (if the new race is within a few weeks) OR scrap your current training plan and add a new race plan for the new race. Just be careful to not suddenly jump into workouts that you are not ready for.  You will want to do two to four race pace workouts for the new race distance, just so race day isn’t a big shock to the body/mind. Lastly, you may be surprised at just how fast marathon training will make you. It’s not uncommon for marathoners to run very fast even at the 5K off of marathon training.

Option 4: Organize a time trial with training partners or your local running club. With just one or two others (even having someone time you is often enough), you can easily get the most from yourself in a time trial. Ideally your time trial covers your original race distance but if that isn’t reasonable, then any length of time trial can help you finish off the training and give you a performance result.

Training adjustment: None except for a possible end date change of your plan for whenever you can organize the time trial.

Final Thoughts

The main point is that you want a performance result to mark the end of your current training cycle. Never ending training cycles lead to mental burnout and a fitness plateau. It may be difficult to feel like you never really finished off your training cycle, but it is important that you have an end point in your current cycle. Then, you can reboot for your next training cycle.

Using your example, you’d do a different race or time trial round the same time as Boston. Then, if Boston is moved or you have another race scheduled in the fall, you simply begin your new training cycle.  Start with a short recovery week or two then move to your base and preparatory plans (hills, stamina or speed) before your marathon plan begins. (Here is an article that goes into depth on building your next training cycle.) And even if you don’t do a race or time trial, take a week or two of reduced training (25-50% reduction in volume) to represent the end of your last cycle.

On a positive note, you can then start your next training cycle at a higher volume level than if you had raced the marathon because you aren’t taking a lot of time off to recover. This allows you to build an even bigger foundation of aerobic fitness before your next race plan.

In the base plan during your time between your canceled race and the start of your next race plan, I recommend not just easy running but also including a few leg speed workouts (stride workouts like 10 x 15-20 seconds at slightly faster than 5K pace using excellent running form) and steady state runs (30-60 minute runs at slower than threshold pace – see the McMillan Calculator for your exact Steady State pace range).  These workouts (perform one workout of each type every week or two) easily maintain your base fitness from your previous training cycle and provide the perfect preparatory training you need before beginning your next race plan.

As always, let me know if I can be of any help.


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