A Summer Without Races

How to continue training for your next running, cycling, swimming, triathlon or other race during COVID-19

Nancy Lynch and Ed Rechnitzer Cycling
Triathlete Nancy Lynch and coach Ed Rechnitzer ride through Calgary, AB. Photo: Calgary Cinematic Capturing Co

It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly. First, the spring races were cancelled due to COVID-19, followed by the summer events, with most fall races currently sitting on a knife edge. Within a couple of weeks of the pandemic hitting Canada, it became clear we are not racing this summer, and not by choice. 

This has left many runners, cyclists, triathletes and other athletes disappointed and unsure. Why is this so hard to accept? After all, races are simply add-ons to the pillars of family and professional life. In the current context of vulnerable global health and economic decline, how can we even think twice about these events disappearing from our calendars, being postponed to next year?

From the outside looking in, a race is a start line and a finish line with lots of uncomfortable huffing and puffing in between. But to the millions of Canadians who toe a start line every year, it is an opportunity for self-expression to validate and celebrate the time and commitment we dedicated to training. It is showing what we are made of at its purest form. 

This summer many of us had planned and trained for several different races, including personal best attempts and destination races. Committing to an event takes courage and determination not counting the hours of training. It is a testament to wanting to improve something about ourselves and test our resolve. This is meaningful to me (maybe also to you) and has left a void.

While recognizing that void, we can use it as a springboard to something positive.

Weekly Schedule Example

In these days of fitness maintenance mode and high stress, here is what a typical week looks like for Nancy:

Week 1
MondayEasy spin (40 min) + core/shoulder exercises
TuesdayHard bike on trainer (45 min – 1.5 hrs)
WednesdayEasy run, strong finish (45 min – 1 hr) + core/shoulder exercises
ThursdayEasy spin (30 min) + stretching/rolling
FridayHard bike on trainer (45 min – 1 hr)
WeekendMountain time. Ride one day, hike the other!
Week 2
MondayEasy run (30 – 40 min) with strides at the end
TuesdayRun, hill workout (50 min) + core/shoulder exercises or yoga
WednesdayLong run steady (1 – 1.5 hrs) with strides at the end
ThursdayEasy spin on bike (30 min) + core/shoulder exercises or yoga
FridayProgressive run (45 min)
WeekendMountain time. Ride one day, hike the other!

The door is open for many of our favourite activities, races included, to come back with a renewed sense of purpose and conviction in the experience they offer. I am optimistic about the future. 

5 Ways to Move Forward

  1. Doing Less? That’s Okay!
    The pandemic has triggered elevated levels of everyday stress and material changes in our lives. While we find calm in exercising, we may also feel pressured to sign up for every park or virtual workout out there. Is anyone feeling ‘Zoomed’ out? The busy-bee approach tends to bite back. A measured approach is more sustainable and healthy.
  2. Spontaneous Exercising
    What about that cool hike you have been meaning to try or an afternoon of paddle boarding? Enjoy the mental break from less structured training, while staying active to maintain fitness and good health.
  3. Play the Long Game
    This is a good time to get re-acquainted with our ‘why.’ Why do I run? Why do I race? Defining what that means will help us see beyond this season. It will also drive our motivation to return to racing.
  4. Be Grateful
    Unlike many other sports, running and cycling inherently incorporate physical distancing. You might not be training for a half-marathon anymore, but you can still get outside and enjoy your sport.
  5. Mentor a New Athlete
    Many are discovering the physical and mental benefits of running and cycling. We can help them get started.

Your Race is Cancelled: Now What? – click to read more from Professional Triathlon Coach Ed Rechnitzer.

IMPACT Magazine Special Summer Edition iPad cover featuring Canadian climber and future Olympian Alannah YipIMPACT Magazine’s Special Summer Edition

This has not been a regular summer, and this is not a regular edition of IMPACT Magazine. In fact, it is an unprecedented issue that comes to you as a result of true grit and community support.

Read this story in our 2020 Summer Digital Edition.