It’s the worst possible scenario: You train for months for this one race and then Mother Nature has different ideas. Whether it’s a heat wave or a hurricane, sometime we are reminded that we aren’t truly running the place.
What should you do? As with anything, you’ll need to weigh your options.
In some cases, you may not have a choice. The organizers may call it, believing it’s not safe for you to race. If that’s the case, you’ll have to decide whether you bag racing altogether or go on a desperate search to find an open race. Chances are you’ll want to race, but you’ll need to find a race that’s a good fit.
The most critical consideration is how long you’ll have to wait for the alternate race. Ideally, you’ll want to race on the same weekend you’d planned to race. The farther away the event, the harder it will be to maintain your current fitness without getting stale, hurt, or just burnt out.
How far you can stretch your racing form will depend on the length of your last training block and how long and drastic your taper was. If you had a shorter build-up (8-12 weeks), then you can probably get away with doing something within the following month. A shorter build makes it less likely that you’re near overtraining which means you could continue to keep a moderate training schedule without fear of overextending.
But if you have been training for 18-24 weeks, chances are you were banking on getting through this race so that you could take a break. If that’s the case, you need to find a replacement race that’s scheduled as soon as possible.
The bottom line
- If your build was short (8-12 weeks), race within 30 days of your planned race day.
- If your build was long (18-24 weeks), race as soon as possible after your planned race day.
The length and intensity of your taper will impact your options, too. If you had a long taper (3-4 weeks) and then really cut back on the distance and intensity over the last 2 weeks, then try to find a race a month away to replace your goal race. The long taper means you’ve already maxed out the time you can maintain the benefits you gained over the previous training. If you try to extend your form for more than 1-2 weeks, you’ll begin losing hard-earned fitness.
If your taper was short or moderate in deductions, then your fitness will be more forgiving; you can wait a few extra weeks to race.
The bottom line
- If your taper was long or severe, race within 1-2 weeks of your previously planned race day.
- If your taper was short or moderate, race within 30 days of your planned race day.
Race or Bust
In other scenarios, you may be able to race, but your race performance may be less than ideal. If that’s okay, race! If you’ve got your heart set on racing, you’ll need to adjust your plans and cross your fingers knowing that an ideal race probably won’t be in the cards.
Whatever you do, weigh your options and choose safety over anything!
Luke Humphrey is author of the new book Hansons Marathon Method. Hansons Marathon Method offers a radical overhaul of marathon training that promises to turn any runner into a true marathoner and help experienced marathoners set new personal bests. Hansons Marathon Method: A Renegade Path to Your Fastest Marathon is featured this month in Barnes & Noble bookstores and is also available in many bookstores, running shops, and online. For more information, please visit www.velopress.com/hansons.