MAKING THE MOST OF UNEXPECTED CHANGES TO YOUR RACE PLANS

This past weekend, I was scheduled to run Race #3 of the Frostbite Series.  It was a 5K and I was really looking forward to it.  I know that I’m not quite at my peak yet, but I knew that it would be a good test of where I’ve gotten in my training in just 2 weeks (probably not far, but I’m hoping closer to that 20-minute mark).  I had every intention of having a great race recap to give you today, but unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.

Winter Storm Jupiter reared it’s ugly head and we ended up in a tough ice situation this past weekend.  Most schools and businesses in the St. Louis area closed on Friday in precaution, and St. Louis Track Club decided to go ahead and cancel the race out of safety concerns for people traveling to the race and running the race.  Unfortunately, they are unable to reschedule this race due to race permits (they are giving us a discount on next year’s race series though), so I’m now in search of a different 5K to add to my race calendar this year.

I wasn’t the only person who had to deal with an unexpected change in their racing plans over the weekend.  One of my BFFs and running clients had her flight to Phoenix cancelled on Friday evening and wasn’t able to book a new flight that would get her there in time for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona.  I know she was super disappointed – it was going to be her FIRST half marathon and she has been working her butt off the last 3 months – but she’s in good spirits and is already searching for a “replacement” race.

I feel like this is starting to be a common occurrence for runners lately.  Maybe it’s the time of the year (having to deal with winter weather and safety is an issue), but I am seeing more + more runners dealing with unexpected race cancellations or changes in race plans.  Just last weekend, runDisney had to cancel the half marathon at the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend due to weather issues and safety concerns on the course (storms vs. ice though).  So, I thought it would be a good thing to address today since I don’t have a race recap to give you, and I know other runners who have been dealing with the same issues.

When dealing with unexpected race cancellations or change of plans, there are a few options for how to make the most of your training minus the race:

I decided to get in some extra miles instead of running my planned race distance.

1. Find another race in the next month to run.  You’ve already been training for 12 to 16 weeks, which means you should be in peak condition for a race.  It is a lot harder to find a race in winter months, but try to find something within the next month so you can still utilize your training effort.

Don’t know how to continue training to be at your peak if you have to push back your race plans?  Repeat the last few weeks of your training plan (i.e. if your race is 4 weeks later, repeat the last 4 weeks of your training plan), including the taper week the week of the race.  The added bonus is that you might find that an extra few weeks of training helped you increase your speed and fitness so you are in even BETTER racing condition than had you run your originally planned race.

2. Go run the distance of your race the same day of the race.  I will admit that I chose not to do this and ended up doing what I would normally run on a Saturday morning (5-6 miles @ 80% 5K pace).  But, I know several people who will create their own race and go out and race the distance the best that they can.  I know A LOT of runners did this last weekend after the runDisney half was cancelled – I think even a few resorts helped make this possible for a lot of the runners.  It’s definitely not ideal, but it might be a better option if you do want to spend MORE money on another race down the road.

Yet, weather is not the only thing we have to worry about when it comes to changes in race plans.  Sometimes it ends up being an injury that forces us to bow out of running a race.  I know this has happened to my mother-in-law twice in the past year, due to unexpected, non-running related injuries.  This is probably the hardest thing for a runner to deal with, because not only do they not get to run their planned race, but they are also now taking time off from running.  Unlike dealing with cancelled races or race plans, running a different race or getting the mileage in on your own just aren’t options.  This is when race insurance becomes important, or trying to defer your race until next year.  This is easier said than done as many races won’t let you defer unless you have race insurance.  So, basically, you’re out your money AND you don’t get to race.

But, again, this is beyond our control.  Make the most of it:  go pick-up your race packet, wear your shirt, and go cheer on the runners as they race.  It might sting a little that you can’t be out there running, but if you ever want some motivation to recover quickly so you can run again, a race is definitely the way to help you stay motivated to come back better than ever.

So, next time you have an unexpected “change of plans” on race weekend, hopefully you can use some of these options to make the most of your race-that-wasn’t!