What to do if your ultra race is postponed?
Having an ultra race postponed is a very real possibility, particularly any race near Sydney in the last few years. Between the bushfires of 2019, the pandemic of 2020 and the rain of 2022, it’s been a rolling series of postponed, rescheduled and cancelled events.
Other races around Sydney, like Six Foot Track Marathon and Ultra-Trail Australia in Katoomba, only go ahead with some last minute course changes (makes for a very nervous time for runners in the weeks before the race).
It’s times like these that need a clear plan. It’s easy to be overcome with the emotional rollercoaster, which leads to more frustration and heartache.
So here’s our 3 step plan to survive the disappointment with your body and mind intact:
- Recalibrate your training plan
Avoid wholesale changes (eg. just ditch it and start again) but you’ll need to reset your weekly volumes and training cycles. Take the chance to focus on separate sessions for technical skill, running efficiency and peak fitness.
- Sort out your niggles
We tend to carry niggles and push on with training, thinking/hoping that the niggle will hold off until after race day. Now you have an opportunity to get your niggles sorted without the pressure of an upcoming race date. Even better news, most niggles are also performance limiting so fixing niggles also has training value.
- Keep up your strength work
Peak fitness drops quickly, but it also recovers fairly quickly as well. Strength gains are a little slower to respond. There’s no harm in reducing your running volume (now that the race is 6 months away…) but keep up your strength training so you’ve got a solid platform to rebuild your running volume in a month or two.
Don’t do this:
- Keep building volume
We often see our running volume as a gradual build – if you ran 20km this week, you’d try for 22km on your next long run. But if you did your sums right, you were on track to arrive at the race with (almost) the right volume of training.
If you keep building on your current volume for an extra 6 months, you’ll overshoot the mark if something doesn’t stop you sooner (usually injury or divorce). Although it seems like a step backwards, reset your running sessions back to more manageable volumes and with more of a performance focus (see point 1 above).
- Lose your sh!t and stop training
The worst approach, and by far the most common, is to crack it and throw in the towel. All that effort seems wasted so it’s an emotional response to take your ball and go home. But you’ll only need to rebuild in a month or two, with increased injury risk and much more frustration.
To avoid the negative emotions, find your running zen – go explore new trails or download a new podcast about non-running topics (my fave is “The Ancients” with very random topics like the dinosaur evolution and Roman politics).
Pete has over 20 years experience as a Physiotherapist and specialises in running biomechanics and complex injuries. He believes that you must identify and fix the underlying cause of an injury, to recover faster, prevent recurrences and improve performance.