at the races New Training Advice in the Midst of Corona Virus Cancellations

New Training Advice in the Midst of Corona Virus Cancellations


Things have escalated quickly.

A lot has changed in the last few days regarding the way society is adapting to the spread of Covid-19. Most of the races that we were wondering about have been cancelled or postponed, including the big one, Boston.

The first thing I said to my athletes is that you can simultaneously be pissed off that your goal race has been cancelled and that you agree that cancelling the event is the best course of action. Yes, it sucks that you won’t be racing after months of training, but you fully endorse the cancellation of that race. (I’ve seen too many Tweets that suggest you should pick one view or the other).

My training advice to my athletes has changed in the last 48 hours. A few days ago it was to train for the event in the hopes that it would go ahead. Now it seems it’s just a matter of days before all major April marathons officially announce cancellation or postponement. My new advice is to back-off full marathon volume/intensity (which isn’t usually sustainable for longer than 16 weeks) and shift training to a level that will reduce risk to injury and leave room to peak for a new date. If a race such as Ottawa marathon (May 24th) looks as though it will go ahead by early April you’ll be able to resume marathon training very quickly having some early marathon work and enough training in the interim. 

I don’t like uncertainty and if it wasn’t for trying to qualify for my last Olympics (at 40 I’m not holding out hope for 2024) I would simply shift my focus to a 10km in late May or June and then pick a fall marathon. (There will be a lot more fall marathons this year!) Training for a 10km isn’t as time-consuming and if those events do end up getting cancelled you’ve still put in training that will help with future races at any distance from Mile to Marathon (Dylan, I’ll invoice you for that plug). 

Back to the Olympics… seeing as I need a qualifying time I’m still, delusionally, holding out hope that May marathons might still go ahead as planned. If that’s not the case it would be great if Athletics Canada could set up a small race for those athletes within striking distance of the Olympic standard (yes, I realize this is self-serving). In my head this would be run on a 5-7km loop and it would at least give athletes a shot at qualifying. 

It’s completely understandable why race organizers are cancelling their Spring events. If they were to go ahead with a race and there ended up being more Corona cases in that city they could lose goodwill with the residents. These races often have to battle for road closures and such and they shouldn’t risk the viability of future races for one event this Spring. Most importantly it’s irresponsible to congregate masses of people when there is serious risk to much of the population if they contract Corona. If there is a spike in Corona cases our healthcare system could easily get overwhelmed. 

Let’s be thankful that our choice of exercise can be enjoyed in self-isolation and you can still get kudos on Strava.