Around the world races have all pretty much dropped off the spring calendar due to the coronavirus. One by one they have either been postponed to later in the year or written off until 2021. Whilst the race cancellations and banning of mass gatherings is warranted for the health of the public, the running community are still mourning the loss of their goal races that they've spent months training and preparing for.
As a coach, I have been helping most of my athletes prepare for a spring marathon which was only weeks away for most of them, but since the cancellations, I have found myself working more as a mental coach than a physical coach.
With this in mind these have been my recommendations:
- Firstly take care of the logistical aspects of your races. For example, change or cancel flights/trains etc, contact hotels to see if they can change the booking to the new event date, check your diary to see if the new event date fits into your year plan.
- It's ok to feel disappointment but we are all in this together - sometimes when we lose our goal we can feel hopeless and training can feel pointless, but it's always good to remember that we want to be flexible when life throws a curveball at us. Yes, your race was cancelled, but there will be other opportunities to race again. Be grateful for the fact you can run and that the training you have done for your goal race has made you a fitter and stronger athlete. You don't need a medal to prove that.
- Do I still need to do those long runs now? - With a few countries on total lockdown this simply isn’t possible for some, but for many we can still get out and run solo in the countryside. However, this is not a time to tax your immune system. I would suggest shifting your focus to maintaining fitness and rekindling your passion for running; reminding yourself why you initially fell in love with the sport.
- Connect with your running community - yes there are still ways to do this whilst still practising social distancing or self isolation. Virtual races have been popping up everywhere, embrace running solo but share your run online after with your running friends.
- Practical Solutions - If you can still run outside I would suggest dialling back your training and concentrate on becoming a faster athlete or just working on your base. With most marathons rescheduled for Autumn 2020 this gives us all around 8-10 weeks of 5-10k training before starting our marathon training block. This is ideal prep before embarking on any marathon training cycle. This is also a good time to concentrate on your weaknesses eg hill climbing or drills.
- Become a stronger athlete - This is something I include in all my weekly coaching plans but I know it's more often than not the thing us endurance athletes drop. Take this time at home to embark on a strength program. This doesn’t have to take more than 10-20 mins a day (we will be sharing lots of ideas about home circuits in the coming weeks) but the results will show when you get back to full training.
I hope these thoughts help, remember running is a lifelong sport, and the daily process of movement is what matters. Training can sometimes feel self-absorbed so maybe we can take this opportunity to zoom out and practise being more selfless.
ASICS UK Frontrunner Community Manager from Bradford on Avon
Age group: 40-45
Club: Avon Valley Runners
Coach: Alan Storey