The last few weeks I have had a similar conversation with just about every athlete I coach about what to do as their races get canceled. I am sure the majority of you are wondering the same thing; what now?
Well in a nutshell you have two options, you can keep training or you can sit on the couch eating doughnuts. Yeah, yeah you can do both but they kind of work against each other. So let's focus on how to improve as an athlete.
Just because your races have been cancelled doesn’t mean you should just throw your program away. The key to progressing as an athlete is to make sure your training season has peaks and valleys; that you still go through training cycles. Personally I am keeping my athletes on a very similar plan to what we decided on at the beginning of the year; we are already 4-6 months into the program so we shouldn’t just put the breaks on and start all over again especially if we have been seeing improvements.
My recommendation is that you still use those original race dates as testing dates and/or training weekends; just modify the amount of time you tapper into them as well as the amount of time you may need to recover after them. The idea is that we still want to work up to a peak in fitness and then come down from it a bit before cycling back up.
If you want to take this time and treat it a bit more like off-season that is totally fine as long as your idea of off-season isn’t sitting on the couch eating doughnuts all day. The purpose of off-season is to work on your weaknesses that you generally can’t focus on during the race season because of the need for race specific fitness. What aspect of your fitness is limiting you? As a cyclist do you need to work on your overall endurance so you can use your sprint power at the end of a long event? As a triathlete do you need to raise your Vo2max to create more room for your FTP to grow under it? If you now have a few extra months until your first scheduled race you may want to use that time to work on those limitations without having to worry about being race ready at this moment.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What do you need fitness wise to be successful at the events you still have planned?
What are your current fitness strengths and weaknesses? What do you need above that you don’t have now?
How much time do you have before the event? How much time do you need to work on what you don’t have?
If you have enough time to work on a weakness and regain race fitness for your event then do it! Take a training block and sacrifice some race fitness and improve that weakness. If you don’t have time to fix that weakness then stay the course of your current training plan and use those early race dates as testing days. There is no right or wrong path as long as you are on a path. With all the uncertainty in the world it will feel great to take some control of your own fitness; I promise it will help.