What to Do About Canceled Races?

Hansons First Marathon HFM by Luke Humphrey runners on bridge 1080x1080

With spring races either canceled or postponed, many runners are asking what they should do with their training. PodiumRunner offers this helpful article with several options and training adjustments to guide you through your training. Women’s Running gives some coping strategies to manage the stress and anxiety. And below, Luke Humphrey, author of Hansons Marathon Method, gives some practical training advice and a creative virtual racing solution.

When a natural disaster or global pandemic happens, we are reminded that we aren’t truly running the place. You may have trained for months for a spring race that has either been canceled or postponed.

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 find an alternative. 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. (If your race was scheduled from March–May, consider a virtual race instead.) 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, consider a virtual race in order to race 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

If you’ve got your heart set on racing, you’ll need to adjust your plans and mindset, knowing that an ideal race probably won’t be in the cards.

From now until May 3, 2020, Luke Humphrey is offering virtual races from the 5K to the marathon, to help those affected by the coronavirus put their training to good use. See more at Luke Humphrey Running blog here.

Whatever you do, weigh your options and choose safety over anything!