Keeping Motivation to Run with Cancelled Races

This has not been the year that any of us has planned. I’m trying to keep the perspective that if the biggest challenge I have this year is cancelled races, I should be thankful. But, I do think its fair to still express sadness and disappointment. Someone will always have it worse off than you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still experience your feelings.

This was a year of big running goals for me. After DNFing my goal half marathon last year due to illness, and having a few rough races after that, I was ready for redemption. Training was going well, and I was hitting really good paces on my long runs. And then the dominoes started to fall. My goal race in May was only cancelled a few weeks ago, but I knew all along it wouldn’t be happening.

My first reaction was to just throw in the towel. Why train hard for a race that isn’t happening. Why even keep up my fitness if there won’t be races all year. Why waste my time.

As I’ve done more thinking (usually while running), I’ve worked on my own motivation and remembering why I run. Here are some of the strategies that I’m using:

  1. Don’t mentally give up on fall races just yet. Realistically, I can’t imagine that they will have races this fall. But, I’m not letting my mind go there. Training for Twin Cities Marathon is one of my favorite things to do, so I’m still going to train for it. If other information comes along, I will cross that bridge then. Having a long term goal still on the horizon helps me feel like my running has a purpose.
  2. Set your own goal. There are a lot of goals you can make for yourself beyond just a race. Maybe its to increase mileage while staying healthy, maybe its to PR on your own, or maybe its to still run a virtual race. I’m not a huge fan of virtual races– I feel like its just not the same experience, but I have been enjoying the challenge of increasing base mileage with longer weekday runs.
  3. Make running your “you” time. You probably already do this, but don’t forget the mental health benefits of running. Even if you aren’t training for a race, getting out the door can be your little win each day. My morning sunrise runs are usually the highlight of my day.
  4. Try something new. I’ve seen a lot of runners taking this time to work on strength training or trying other types of training that they wouldn’t usually do. I’ve been doing a lot of Nike Training Club video workouts and working on that glute strength that I’m lacking.
  5. Find the good. Your mental state determines your experience. If you spend your time dwelling on negative thoughts, you’re just going to be more negative. I try to find the positives in this experience– I’m thankful that I have running to get me out the door. I’m thankful that I have a job that lets me work from home so that I have more time than I normally would. I’m also thankful the weather is starting to get warmer so I don’t have to spend a lot of time on the treadmill.

It’s also important to remember that races will come back. Working through this difficult year will teach you resiliency that will make you a stronger person and a stronger runner.  This too shall pass.

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