So what now? With spring races being cancelled on what seems like a daily basis, and question marks punctuating the faces of race directors, organizers and athletes as events are being postponed, cancelled or status pending . . . what now? It seems like now, there are more questions than solutions, and the questions will remain unanswered for the foreseeable future (something reminiscent of a nightmare in my humble opinion). I try my best to problem solve, to keep positive and tell myself it will be okay, that races might still happen this year and that I just have to be patient. But that usually consumes about 1 minute of conscious thought before I ask myself the question again, so what now?

Hillary Allen works out on bike trainer
Using my H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer. Photo credit: Bastien Perez

What do I do now? Of course, I ask myself this as an athlete and competitor, who’s race calendar has suddenly been cleared, and consequently so has my motivation to train long hours. But, my question shifts perspective as I wander into the shoes of other people . . . What do I do now? As a race director, a small business or community member, or family trying to balance a passion for sport, while working at home and care-taking for children who are out of school?

These questions might be rhetorical, and unfortunately, I don’t have the answer, not even for myself. I just know that in times of change, adversity and extreme challenges lie opportunity. I know from experience that the most impossible and unrelenting of circumstances can produce silver linings, growth, and dare I say it, a better version of yourself. Of course, better is a relative term, some of you might be scoffing reading this, doubting whether this crappy situation we are in could ever result in something better. But I encourage you to take a deeper look. Take the past year, have you had setbacks, challenges, times where you wanted to give up? With a job, a relationship, a hard training session? I’m sure you have (and if you haven’t, well, then now is your chance to experience it!). My point is, everything that has happened in life, good or bad, has shaped you into the person you are today, and that right there is what makes you better than before.

Hillary Allen works out on bike trainer
Quality trainer time in my secluded cabin in the woods. Photo credit: Bastien Perez

I know from personal experience, that hardship has made me into the person I am today. Through injuries, job transitions, tough training sessions and seemingly impossible ultra marathon races, I know these singular uncomfortable events, added up over time, have made me quite a resilient person. More wise and confident in my ability to navigate change and uncertainty.

Photo credit: Bastien Perez

I draw on these unpleasant experiences as proof, I say to myself ‘if I did that, then I can get through this too.’ So I challenge you to do the same, to take the absences of races for the foreseeable future as opportunity. To lean into the anxiety, and use it as an opportunity to learn. To be more patient (that’s for me), to be ok with uncertainty in a race calendar (me again). Use it as an opportunity to train more, and engage in a community, albeit virtual for now. We are all going through the same uncertainty, so let’s take a step back, breathe (maybe do that three or four more times) and embrace this challenge. Although I don’t have the answer for everyone, and if reading this only eases your mind for a second or two, that’s still a bit of progress. Let’s take it one day at a time, one trainer session at a time, and one virtual hug at a time. We will become better from setback.

Cross training with cutting wood. Photo Credit: Bastien Perez

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