Should You Adapt Your Training with No Races on the Horizon?

It seems like every week or two, another handful of race organizers make the difficult decision to cancel their events this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while there is still hope that the situation will improve enough that an in-person fall race might take place, even the most optimistic runners are recognizing that races with several thousand runners aren’t likely to happen for the rest of 2020.

If your race calendar has been cleared for the foreseeable future, how are you proceeding with your training?

Not running at all? Continuing to log miles as if nothing has changed? Something in the middle?

An Unprecedented Situation

Safe to say, we are in uncharted waters at the moment.

As runners, odds are we are going to keep running in some form or fashion, even without any races on the schedule.

While there is no right or wrong way to adapt your training, there is no shortage of options to at least consider. Here are a few ideas to think about as you continue running during the pandemic.

Keep on Keeping On

If you’re in a good groove with your training right now, nothing says you need to make any changes just for the sake of making changes!

I’m a huge fan of getting in, and staying in, a good routine in all areas of my life, running included.

So if you’ve found a good running groove at this point of the pandemic, I can’t think of any good reason to come out of said groove unnecessarily.

Shore Up Your Weak Links

We’ve all heard the saying before that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same is true for your body.

Our bodies adapt to meet the demands we place upon them. As runners, this means we will strengthen certain links in our chain, aka muscles and muscle groups, more than others. Over time, this can lead to imbalances that can easily develop into injuries.

Right now, with no races to train for, is a perfect moment to pull back on your running a bit and incorporate some activities that challenge your body in different ways. Replace a running day with some cycling or swimming. Spend some more time doing yoga to loosen up your tight legs. Add in some extra strength training exercises.

The “excuse” I hear most often from runners who are slacking in any or all of these areas? Not enough time.

While we all still only have 24 hours available to us each day, a period with no races on the calendar is a good one to consider cutting back your weekly mileage a bit in order to free up some time to include the little things a bit more consistently.

Experiment with More Miles

For some of you, now may be a good time to experiment with adding a bit more mileage to your weekly or monthly training load.

When races are on the horizon, you shouldn’t experiment too much as you don’t want to throw off your progression toward race day. But with no races coming anytime soon, now may be a good time to see how your body responds to longer long runs or an extra day of running per week.

If all goes well, you’ll be even stronger and fitter when you get into race training mode in the future. If it’s a bit of a struggle for your body, you can pull back for a week or two without worrying about how a little extra down time will impact your race day performance.

To be clear, this isn’t the right option for everyone. But if you’ve been mostly healthy for the past several months, have been consistent in your training, and are curious about whether or not a few more weekly miles might help you make progress toward your running goals, now might be a good time to roll the dice and see what happens.

Just Keep Running

From a running perspective, the worst thing that can happen due to the lack of races for the rest of the year is to completely pull back from running until races start happening again. If your running shoes collect more dust than miles for the next four to six months, you run the risk of losing most of the fitness you’ve worked to build over the past several months or years of consistent training.

So keep running, no matter how much you have to adapt your training schedule to fit life in the midst of a pandemic.

Because when races become a thing again, the training you’re doing in these next few months will pay off in a big way!

By Denny Krahe

Denny Krahe is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Running Coach specializing in helping runners prevent common running injuries and being able to run pain free. He is also the host of the "Diz Runs With..." podcast.