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  • Jeremy

Damn it! My Marathon got canceled

I know that there are more important issues in the world and I know that when a race is canceled it is for good reasons. I always want to stay positive and try to see the opportunity in every misfortune.

BUT when you have trained for 8, 10, 14, or even more weeks with the idea in mind that on this particular day you will go home with your shiny medal, celebrating all this time training... I can understand why people are lashing out on social media…

Even though it is something you cannot control and cannot do much about, like in every situation, there is a way to, at least, try to make this better, and this is what I want to discuss here.

Context, please!

Just to give you a little bit of information, as I am writing these lines, I am in my week 10 out of 14 training for the Paris Marathon 2020. A few hours ago, the Paris Marathon got rescheduled to the end of the year… 28 weeks later… A little too long to keep my training going intensively all the way.

The Tokyo Marathon, one of the 6 Majors Marathons has been canceled too and it is unlikely that the list is going to stop there. Rome has already been canceled. 2020 is definitely not a really good year to try to complete your first marathon.

No one is responsible

It is human nature to find other humans responsible of our own frustration, and when someone has to make a decision, she or he will have to make a lot of persons unhappy. That is why lashing out on the organizers isn't the right answer.

Believe me, for the organizers, canceling a race is much worse than it is for you. On the one hand, the organizing team is losing a lot of money in the process, the sponsor interest will decrease a lot for the next year and make the organization of the race harder, and a lot of people who worked for a year on the organization will really end up with nothing.

For you, on the other hand, you still end up with a lot of gains acquired during your training and no one will take this away from you. I feel bad for the volunteers because they get nothing out of their hard work.

So, I am not saying that you shouldn't feel frustrated, I am just saying that being hard on the organizers, the media or the world, in general, will not make you feel better in any way. What I think could maybe help you a little is in the rest of the article but for now, my advice is just to be nice.

It might be the Corona Virus this year, or a storm, or a political decision or anything else, there will always be a reason for a race to be canceled and therefore it is part of the package of being a runner to be ready for such an event and react accordingly. Now let's see what we can do about it!

Gains in the bank

The first thing I want you to do right now is to open Strava. If you don't already use Strava, please go read this article This is why you should use Strava. So, you have opened Strava (or any database which has all your runs recorded) and now you are going to look at your preparation weeks.

One by one, look at all the runs, look at the miles you have put in the banks while preparing for this event. Think about all the really good runs you have had, this Sunday along the lake, this Tuesday run with your best friend, or this family-run you have made with your children, etc…

Please, read at your total statistics so far, how many miles have you run in total since you started the preparation? How many PB did you achieve while training? Was there any improvement in your day to day life? With your family? Did you progress in your job?

Try to have an honest look at these preparation weeks and once you are done with this deep introspection of your training time, try to answer this question: Is everything I have done really useless if I cannot run this specific race?

I think at that point most people will answer that their training was beneficial in a lot of different ways. Even if of course, it would have been better to actually run the race you have been aiming for so long. But anyway, you did it, you prepared yourself for this race!

So, now that we have established that, it is no one’s fault and that all your efforts are not wasted, what is next?

Never stop going

I have seen messages on Facebook groups about people claiming that if there was no race, what was the point of keep preparing for an event that will not happen.

Please, do not ever do that.

If you really let go, then for sure you have lost your time. Change this difficulty into an opportunity! Move on with your training, and maybe it will give you a little bit more time to prepare even harder and be in better shape for the next race.

But if you let go, then you haven’t really discovered what being a runner is. Running is not a time-based activity, you will be a runner for all your life, so one race getting canceled is nothing compare to your life of running.

Even better, it is another great story to tell you grandkids: “I remember when the Tokyo Marathon got canceled in 2020, it was going to be my 6th stars but I used this to start training for trail marathon instead and not only I have run the Tokyo Marathon in 2021 and got my 6th stars but I also run a full trail marathon with 1000m elevation the same year and it all started because they cancel the race in 2020”.

Make this frustration your force and push even harder to overcome this misfortune.

Find another race!

The advice is quite logical, and I know you didn't need me to tell you that. But it is really what you have to do. Let's see the different options that you have:

Run the race anyway

If the race you registered for in the first place is far from your home and you booked train or plane tickets, plus accommodation, you can just choose to go there, enjoy visiting this new city and on the day that the race was supposed to happen, just run on your own.

There will be no medal, no cheering, no aid station so you will have to prepare a little more, but you can achieve this race if you want to. Running is a magical sport, accessible to everyone everywhere, whenever someone wants to practice it. So go for it!

Obviously, the reason the races are canceled in 2020 is to prevent the virus to propagate, so if you decided to run the race anyway be careful. If the organizers canceled it, it was to prevent loads of people to gather up in the same confined space, so don't prove them wrong by catching this virus, because that would really destroy your effort.

Find a replacement

If the race was local for you, or that you don't want to travel if the race is not happening anymore, then find another one. Go to Race-Find, Find a Race, FindMyMarathon or Let's do this or just simply type on google "find a marathon near me". The only idea here is to get you, your very well owned medal!

The only hard part is to find something that fits the calendar. If you get notified 2 weeks in advance about your race cancelation then you can keep on training and delay your tapper for 1 week or 2 and find another race a little later than planned. If you get notified at the last minute and you have already started your taper then you either have to find a race quickly within 1 or 2 weeks maximum or you find another race in 1 month and you start again you training for 2 hard weeks before going again on taper weeks.

Set yourself a new challenge

I would always encourage people to find another race because getting a medal, the encouragement from others, the feeling when crossing the finish line is not something you can get by training on your own.

But in some cases, I think personal challenges could be as much satisfying as a race. I personally challenged myself to run from the city I live in: Banbury (UK) to Oxford by running along the canal. I tried twice and never managed to do it yet. The run is about 45km and would perfectly correspond to a marathon challenge.

I might take the Friday (prior to the marathon weekend) off and try to run it! At least, I would have achieved 42km once in my life if I managed to accomplish this challenge!

You can do the same. Find something nearby that can replace your race. A run around this big lake near you that you have always wondered how long would it take you to make a full lap, or running all the way to the top of the hills you see every day but never actually run there. Anything which actually gets you back on your running feet to accomplish the goal you set yourself to accomplish.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Albert Einstein

It is up to you to know to listen to Albert Einstein and find your next opportunity! I hope you found this article interesting and you are going to go look for your next challenge right now.

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Let me know in the Comments what you think, and which race got canceled for you? And how you handled it?


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PS: I swear you won't be spammed, as I hate them as much as I hate realizing that I forgot to stop my running watch and ruined my average speed 😅 🤣

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