What to do if your race gets cancelled due to COVID?

Depressed athlete man sitting head in hands on stadium seats

Rumor: If my race gets cancelled I can’t adapt my running schedule
Truth: No

During this unprecedented time, we are all learning to be adaptable. We are acclimatizing to changes in the workplace, teaching children from home, postponing travel plans, and cancelling scheduled events. Your upcoming race may be one of those cancellations and we know what a disappointment that can be. However, as a runner, you’ve been training for this!

Since you are reading this article, you are probably a runner, which means that you already know the many great physiological benefits of running. While training for your race (whether it’s a 5k, half marathon, marathon, etc.) you are preparing your cardiovascular system, improving your muscular strength, and increasing resiliency of your ligaments and tendons to withstand the duration of the event. All of these things are possible because your musculoskeletal system is adaptable! We must learn to embrace the beauty in adaptability and apply it towards confronting the mental and emotional challenges that come with altering your plans or goals for your upcoming race. 

There are a few options available to you if your race has been cancelled. Are you in the middle of your training program and have your sights set on running on the specific race date? Go for it! Run your race! This will obviously take some strategic planning on your part. Things to consider include planning a race route that is safe and open to the public, but is not densely populated. You will also need to consider hydration and race fuel. There will not be water stands or drinking fountains, so be sure to bring adequate water and race snacks with you. Please comment below if you plan and execute a “self-directed” race. We would love to hear about your experience!

If your race has been rescheduled for a later date, consider the timing of when you plan to ramp up your mileage. You now have more time to train for the race, but you don’t want to get caught overtraining or peaking too early in your program. For races that have been cancelled, now is a great time to reconsider your running goals. Are you running for a time or distance? Now that you have more time before your race, take the opportunity to focus on those things that you tend to “work around” rather than “work though”. This will look different for each individual runner, but may include reflecting on how you run on different surfaces (treadmill vs. track vs. trail), your running speeds, or how you mentally push yourself while training and racing. This is a great time to experiment with varying your running schedule, strength training, and cross-training alternatives. Sidenote: be on the lookout for our next RUNATOMY post featuring strengthening exercises that you can do from home to improve your running form!

Do you have any nagging injuries that you “just deal with” while running? You have been presented with an incredible opportunity to slow down, take a look at your running form, and work on those specific running details. If you are interested in getting professional feedback, our clinics are open and available to you for a Custom Video Running Analysis performed by a Certified RUNATOMY Specialist. We are here to address any questions in order to help you run better, faster, and safer. While we recognize that a race cancellation is not ideal, we hope that you’re able to make the most of this time to learn the beauty in adaptability and safely prepare for the miles and races ahead! 


Michelle Rice PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified RUNATOMY Specialist 

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