Amid growing confusion about the spring racing season Jenny Nesbitt talks about what to do if your plans have to change.

As runners we usually like to plan ahead a little. Whether that be the weeks training, the next race or even longer term.

I personally like to know what races are coming up, to understand why the training I am doing is leading me there. Having plans on paper also gives me a goal and something to get excited about, as after all, racing is the best bit of running! So what happens when your plans become curtailed…. whether that (in my case) is through illness, injury or more recently through the Coronavirus. 

Firstly, it can be really disappointing when your body lets you down. From feeling fit and fast, to frail and fatigued over a period of a few hours.

Likewise, from running your best session, to limping through your run the next day. You’re questioning whether it is in your head or if it is really happening. Typically as runners, we are pretty hardcore, and there is very little that will sway us away from training and racing plans. I am also a very stubborn type of athlete, which I am sure a lot of us are, and my decision making can sometimes be subject to ‘following the plan exactly’.

So, when you can’t even make it from bed to the fridge, realistically a run is a no go (I suggest you avoid the easy run with a heart rate of over 180bpm – you will not make yourself feel any better!).

Even more frustrating as of late is the ‘I am in the best shape of my life, but the Cornoavirus says no’ situation. Obviously, a seriously desperate and threatening state of attack on the world, but it would be amis of me to not recognise the frustration and disappointment it causes for us runners. 

So, what happens when your plans don’t go to plan?

You have a little strop (likely). You moan on social media (also likely). You feel a bit demotivated (possible). But, ultimately, you crack on. Even so, curtailed plans can leave you a little lost. 

I’ve felt a little lost the past 5 weeks, actually really lost at some points. From coming off a really positive start of the year, I felt like I was building some great momentum into February. I was excited to race indoors for the first time, I was feeling strong. In a matter of hours, I went from blooming to feeling enervated. I tried to shake it off.

Went to bed early, inhaled enough vitamin C to see me through the year and drank so much water, I didn’t sleep at all. Shock. I woke up feeling no better. So I went home to be ‘mummied’, hoping I would feel better in a couple of days. I even tried to race again (LOL – facepalm). 

It was actually 3 weeks, and a lot of DNF easy runs, until I attempted to run a broken tempo. I nearly died.

I feel like a lot of people will be able to feel me when I say running way below tempo pace felt way harder than any PB race. I will not lie, the thought of racing anytime soon was making me feel kinda sick. Being strong minded is a personality trait of many runners, so luckily I had this to fall back on, because my body certainly did not like the shock of anything faster than easy running. So I muddled on, but I felt lost. 

When everything goes right. Photo: JHM Sport

Waiting for it to click back into place

Back putting in the mileage, but just not feeling great. They say one day it will click. WHEN DOES THIS CLICK COME. I am usually quite a patient person, but my patience was wearing very thin.

Every run felt unpleasant. I have never procrastinated so much. A positive mental attitude can get you a long way sometimes, believe me! It is hard to step out every morning and feel average. Every. Damn. Day. Do you rest more? Run more? Keep going? Motivation was certainly lacking (not helped by the weather). I didn’t want to race. I didn’t want to session. I sort of wanted to burn my trainers. 

The good news though, is the click does come. I wouldn’t say its like turning on a light, but it certainly clicks. The desire to train comes back. Mornings begin to feel a bit better. The itch for the start line re-emerges. Luckily, I did have a race on the horizon and now motivation to see how fit I could get in 2 weeks.

In comes Coronavirus… World University XC postponed

Time for a bit more moaning on social media, a little strop and a feeling of disappointment knowing that was my last chance to run for GB students gone.

But, I’ve nailed the ‘what happens when your plans font happen’ part, and I have cracked on. Renewed motivation, and new goals (for now….). It is not easy to have to reroute sometimes and it can be really disappointing. From an investment of training, time, energy and money, it can seem like a big loss.

The beautiful thing about running is that there will always be another day, another race and another run. It might not be in Paris or Barcelona, it might not be this month, it might not even be over the same distance, but the running community will always bring the goods eventually. 

So, when your plans don’t go to plan, don’t lose hope, because usually, better things are around the corner. 

Are you a fan of Fast Running? Then please support us and become a patron. For as little as the price of a monthly magazine you can support Fast Running – and it only takes a minute. Thank you