One of the most heartbreaking changes associated with the coronavirus has been the cancellation of big races for serious distance runners. Many runners train seriously for one or more marathons during the calendar year. Even the iconic Boston Marathon was canceled due to COVID-19. That was a first for the race, a tradition in the city for over a century. Many runners haven’t been sure what to do about their training programs, with so many key races canceled. Should they act as if the races were going to take place? Or is that too much stress on the body?
Early on, most of the advice was to extend training programs. That way, runners wouldn’t peak too early or run too far, depleting themselves before the new date for the big race was announced. Back in March and April, the feeling was that these races could well be rescheduled for later in the year. Unfortunately, that hasn’t come to pass in most places. Many of the most popular half-and full marathons have been postponed until at least 2021. There are ways for people to create long runs with a competitive edge to them, however.
For example, it’s possible in some places to run shorter races. These can easily be incorporated into longer workouts. The first way of doing this is to tack a short race on at the end of a moderate run. Races have a different feel and pace that’s hard to replicate without competition. Another option is to see a short race as a starting point. After the 5k or 10k has ended, adding a workout on is not necessarily pushing too hard. Famous runners like Galen Rupp have used that kind of training strategy very effectively.
As the pandemic continues, the most important thing for runners is to keep running. Exercise has terrific benefits, both physical and mental. Lockdowns and social distancing have been frustrating for many people. Jogging or running is one way to manage stress levels and lift depression related to the pandemic. Other forms of training, including tempo work, can help people stay fit and ready to get back into competitive races when the lockdowns are lifted.