I can describe in one word the feeling I felt last October when I was selected via lottery for entrance into the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon: confused. I read the email four times before I comprehended the words in front of me. You see, I was four days away from flying to Chicago to run the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and all I could think about was the feat that lay immediately ahead of me, not one six months away.
What's more, I thought my marathon days were behind me. I had spent the past three consecutive years running the TCS New York City Marathon and was worn out. And I swore that after my whim decision to run the Chicago Marathon to raise money for charity, my marathon days were done for a while. Needless to say, the opportunity to run my fifth marathon and my first international race came as a surprise. But amid my surprise and confusion, I was undeniably excited.
After crossing the finish line at Chicago, I immediately got to work planning my road to London. However, things did not go according to plan. With the onset of coronavirus, nearly every single one of my training races were cancelled. Running in general had a big question mark over it. It was only a matter of time until London pulled the plug as well. When I received the email, not all hope was lost: my race was postponed until the fall. Although I was thrilled to learn that I had a fighting chance to check off a goal of mine, the realization set in that I had months more of work ahead of me in order to safely and smartly run. I was discouraged.
But then I realized, I was just given something we're hardly ever granted in life: time. I had six more months to achieve my goal. Original race day came and went, and although I'm still lamenting my lost race, I find myself more motivated than ever to make the future race my best and most meaningful one yet. Here's exactly how I'm using the cancelled race to inspire me even more.
I'm Using My Time Wisely
I've started adopting other methods of training such as at-home HIIT classes, core work, and yoga and stretching for runners. These cross-training methods partnered with a modified and now more advanced running plan have encouraged me to completely reevaluate my marathon approach. Not only am I building my endurance and increasing mileage via my weekly runs, but I'm also building muscle and challenging different parts of my body and mind. Now, I'm not just a runner but a multisport athlete.
I'm Setting a New Goal
London is still the ultimate goal, but I'm now setting a speed goal for myself that wasn't going to be achievable for me safely prior. I already have a solid mileage base to start, so now I'm able to incorporate speed work and more frequent long runs that will allow me to build upon what I've already started. Although I always have an underlying goal to run each race faster, I'm very realistic with my body and know it's not always possible to safely achieve some time goals without the proper training. Now might just be the time to take the leap and put in the extra work.
I'm Becoming a More Social Runner
No, not physically. I've always been a solo runner, even prior to socially distant runs. However, with the lack of races on the calendar, I find myself turning to the amazing running community to connect now more than ever. I've bonded with friends near and far over running tips. I've connected with a friend who is new to running and is curious about training tips. I've even taken the bold step of reaching out to a local runner I follow on Instagram to join her in a running challenge. The sport that I took up to be alone has now become my way to connect with others in socially distant times. I know showing up bright and early on race morning this fall will be even more special this time around.
I'm Keeping My Body Safe and Strong
This goes far beyond a socially distant run. This also comes in the form of smart and strategic rest and recovery days, yoga and meditation practices, and even the good food I fuel myself with. With that, I'm also paying more attention to my form and technique when running — something I had never really done before. Because of that, I'm investing in myself and my gear now more than ever. Trainers like the UA HOVR™ Phantom RN Night Running Shoes ($140) are specifically crafted to help runners make the most out of their training thanks to their balance of cushioning and stability upon impact. In addition, they actually connect to UA MAPMYRUN™ to analyze and provide metrics on your own personal running style. For someone like me looking to take my marathoning to the next level, paying closer attention to my body is key to injury-free success. Ultimately, as I up my game, it's important to make sure my body is ready for these changes.