Whether you’re a first-time racer, an elite with Olympic aspirations or a first-time marathoner, having your goal race canceled — even when it’s entirely justifiable — can feel like a huge blow. Sure, it messes with your perfectly organized schedule and makes it harder to motivate to continue training, but there will be more races. And while these decisions are out of your control, here’s why you should keep running, and what you can do right now.
So you’re not going to Boston (or insert your goal race here). That’s not a reason to cancel your training block and flop on the couch. Running can be a huge help when it comes to dealing with stress, anxiety and depression, and dropping out of your training plan isn’t going to do any good. (If you’ve been advised to avoid the gym, you can still walk outside in nature or do a bodyweight strength routine in your living room to stay active.)
RECONNECT WITH YOUR “WHY”
You didn’t train for a marathon just to cross that finish line — you trained for it to be healthier, to spend more time with running friends, to stretch your limits, to try new things, to explore a new hobby or for sheer love of the sport. One race was never going to define you: The process that got you this close to the starting line is what makes you an athlete, not a number on a results website. Make a list of all of the benefits you’ve gotten from running so far. You’ll quickly see the pros outweigh the cons by a huge margin.
DIY A RACE
Can’t run your A race because it was canceled, but you still want to do it? While you might not be able to reconstruct the exact race, consider doing a mini-race in your neighborhood. Set up your garage as an aid station, plan a route, and set a race day and time. Treat it like an actual event, not just a casual long run. Not only will you still reap the training benefits and be able to stick to your training plan and schedule, but you’ll also be able to learn a lot from this ‘race’ to take into your goal race when it does get rescheduled.
KNOW THERE WILL BE OTHER RACES
It’s never fun to have to change your carefully considered and organized race calendar, but when public health and safety are paramount, skipping one event is a minor inconvenience. Being disappointed about your race being canceled is completely normal and understandable — especially if you’ve been working hard and have a specifically-made-for-the-race training plan that you’ve been following to the letter. But there will be other chances to race: Don’t let this be the end of your running career, especially if your canceled race was going to be your first time on a start line.
Yes, your race was canceled, and that goal may not get checked off this year. But after reviewing the tips above, you’ll find a way to keep running. So be grateful for the fact that you can run — and that in training for your goal race, you’ve become the fit, strong athlete you wanted to be. You don’t need a finisher’s medal to prove that.