2020 Races Are Canceled – What’s Next?

Remember March of 2020? Feels like five years ago, and a couple of weeks ago at the same time. Tiger King was what EVERYONE was talking about, and the NBA would be back by May?

Many of us marathon runners in March were on two different training trajectories:

  1. In the final weeks of a preparation for Spring Marathon. (Josh was blogging about his spring 3 Hour Marathon attempt here.)
  2. Starting to plan and train for a Fall Marathon.

Personally I was in camp #2. I had qualified for and I had just started my training plan for the Chicago Marathon, that normally takes place in October of every year. I spent the winter running a decent amount, but was also working on cross training, specifically with HIIT exercises at a local gym to strengthen other areas of my body.

At the start of quarantine, I refocused on running at started racking up the miles, in hope of a fall race…  Whomp.

When the Berlin Marathon was canceled in May, it was only a matter of time for the other major marathons, like Boston, Chicago, and New York intelligently follow suit. The trickle down effect has been substantial as many smaller races like the 8k Dogfish Dash, that Josh and I are HUGE fans of, and many other community races have been canceled.

For many of us we have to pose the question: What’s Next?

I personally have struggled with attempting to answer it for myself. I did a Virtual 24 hour Ultra marathon that I blogged about.  While I was thrilled I completed the challenge the effort took a lot out of me. Running every 4 hours on pavement, is less than ideal for your joints..

Over the last couple months, I have struggled with a couple nagging injuries. If you follow me on Strava or Instagram I have made comments about a bum left ankle I have been dealing with, and a tight lower back/hamstrings due to sitting more at home, hunched over a laptop.

Just this past week I took some time off to reass, (Just in time for the Garmin Outage) to rest up my ankle and start to prepare, for….. ummm a race or something.

I have to admit, I miss races.

I absolutely love racing. I love circling a date on the calendar, weeks, months, sometimes years in advance, and patiently preparing for them.  I love waking up race day and feeling that adrenaline. I love waking up race day and feeling that adrenaline.

If I have to drive to a race, I drive like a maniac. Way over the speed limit, darting in and out of cars out of impatience. (Sorry Mom) I love the sense of anticipation and collective coiled energy that we all feel toing the start line right before the gun goes off.

In our modern world where else can align our heart, body and mind, coil that energy into our body, and expend it into such a fierce and positive manner.

There is nothing quite like expending everything you have that day into one single effort.

So again, I pose, what is next?

I had to do some soul searching but I think I have landed on it.

For me, I am going to plan on doing a virtual marathon. Why? Because why not? Seriously what else are we doing? And I do love racing, yes even virtually.

I am doing this build up different than any other race build up. I am going to mix in things that actually do not have much to do with running. These are all areas outside of running but close that will help me prepare for a race that is very different.

Here are the three things I am adjusting going into this training build up:

1 – Weight Training/Cross Training – I FULLY admit, that since my college track days, I have slacked in this realm. During college track, especially later my sophomore-senior years I was in the  gym 4-5 days a week. At minimum doing a complete core workout. And it works.

Since? I have slacked in this area. Pre-Covid, doing HIIT work and ab work 2-3 days a week was sufficient to keep . I was also walking around for work more, and just overall very  active.

Now? Not so much. My back, core and hamstrings have suffered as I am sitting far more, hunched over a laptop. I am going to go back to basics and get back to doing home workouts 2-4 days a week (Based on volume)

2 – Stretch More! – Everyone does not stretch enough. Period. Especially me. Since I have been sitting more, I have felt my body slowly become tighter and tighter. How to fix this? What I will be doing is using our Injury Prevention Guide, (Included with our Marathon Training Plans) as a guide.

In there it has a list of movements, stretches, plyometric drills, that help runners of all skill levels warm up and recover daily. This process is critical to keep

I will be doing this process at least 5 days week, ideally everyday, but I know that’s a lofty goal.

3 – Adding in Cycling – A little odd, for a running plan, but I love riding my road bike. I actually started running in high school as something to do in road cycling off season. Over time it became obvious though, I could run in college for a team, and I was not going to go pro in Europe riding in the Tour.

During the last couple months, I have had more time to get back on the bike. I have realized how much I missed riding. It is also easier to stay cool on the bike, other than running  on some very hot and humid days. Moving forward, until it gets cooler, I have planned at least a once a week long (2 hour +) Ride. This keeps my cardio similar to the length of a marathon, while not beating up some of my joints as much. Win win!

Will cycling replace my long runs or speed work? No, cycling or any cross training should not replace the long runs that build up the leg conditioning needed to thrive over a 26.2 mile race. Will it be a supplement to my normal running and strength work? Absolutely.

Last point is when it comes to cycling: I just love riding. What’s the point of cutting something out that you really enjoy? Previously I have cut cycling and other activities out because I felt it was taking away from my running goals. Now, I’d rather adjust my running plan a bit to make sure I can still enjoy riding. Am I going to sign up for a road race anytime soon? Nope! Can I still enjoy a couple hours in the saddle? Absolutely.

I also may have my eye on an Ironman build up next year….

We’ll see.

4. Stick to the Plan

I love it when a plan comes together..

Pre-Covid, I was on a very tight schedule. The only free time I really had was on Sunday’s. I was working two jobs, running, working out, raising a dog, and overall keeping very busy. Now looking back it was too much, but it did keep me disciplined, and focused. It also made me plan EVERYTHING out.

My friends will testify, I need everything in my calendar, everything. Even dates. Seriously.

Now, working from home, one job, and not really going out, uhh yea I have time.

What does that mean? I get lazy. I think we all do to a certain extent, especially when my life was go, go, go all the time.

I recently modified our very popular Sub 3:00 Hour Plan, to suit what my new goals moving forward. Wrote it out, and will program it into Final Surge. This will help me stay on target and keep me focused.

Staying Flexible

Hopefully with these steps and changes, I am planning for a successful virtual marathon. My goal right now is sub 2:45, but without the adrenaline and support of race day, I would be really happy with just completing one, sub 2:55.

It is important to be flexible and patient with yourself as you think your own plan moving forward though.  Life is wild right now, and the world is constantly changing. While this all can be a bit scary, I am going to use running as my mini-escape through this, and use the extra free time to work on areas that I have been neglecting.

I’ll be blogging along the way too! Follow along and let me know what you think!

Curious about marathon training plans, and preparing for your marathon? Virtual or not, check out our plans!