Back on Track (How to Not Panic When You’ve Skipped a Few Runs)
|September 7, 2010||Posted by Lauren under Marathon Training, Running|
Training for a marathon is a long-term commitment that requires a lot of planning, flexibility, and sacrifices. Over the course of so many months of training, things are bound to come up — even with the best laid plans.
And I’m not just talking about big things like injury or sickness. Even small day-to-day stuff like having to work late or just feeling run-down can cause you to skip a run here and there. For me, one thing that always seems to get in the way of sticking with my training schedule is travel. When I visit a new place or go to see family or friends, I don’t usually have a hard time being active. Exploring my surroundings on foot or by bike is one of my favorite things to do. But getting in my training runs is a bit more difficult. Because, let’s face it – it’s much easier to convince a friend to join you for a nice long walk than it is to get them to come along on an hour-plus long run.
This past weekend, I struggled with this very dilemma. I took advantage of the holiday to make a trip down to DC to visit 2 of the HOTR-sisters. 16 hours in the car and only a couple of days with my sisters left me with little time (or energy) to fit in all my scheduled runs. So instead of tempo and recovery runs, there was a lot of this:
Eating my weight in frozen yogurt at FroZenYo
As a sidenote: If you’re ever in the DC area, I suggest you hightail it over to FroZenYo – an amazing self-serve frozen yogurt place where you can add all the toppings your heart desires.
And sadly — not so much running. I enjoyed every minute of my stay in DC, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little nagging voice in the back of my mind, reminding me of all those miles I should have run. I can’t change the past — so what’s a girl with 2 big running events coming up in the next two months to do?
How to Not Let a Few Skipped Runs Ruin Your Running Mojo
I know I’m not the only one out there who has ever been faced with this dilemma. So if you’re training for a big race (of any distance) and find yourself in a situation where you’ve skipped a few runs, here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to get you back on track.
- Do not panic. Yes, it’s important to run consistently, build up your mileage, and get in your key runs. But skipping a run here and there is not the end of the world! It’s not going to ruin all your efforts, put you back to square one, or cause you to run an awful race. I promise.
- Do not try to add those missing miles onto other runs. I’ll admit, my first impulse after skipping a couple of days was to add them to my weekly long run. I wanted to get them in somehow, even if that meant doing it all at once. But if I had really done that, a week that should have been a step-back in my training would have turned into another week of heavy distance…which would then have made me more tired and could affect the 20 miles I’m supposed to run this weekend. When I’ve fallen into the trap of running extra or without rest days in the past, I’ve always ended up injured. Don’t let a couple of missed miles make you do something you’ll later regret.
- Do try to carry on with your schedule as usual. It may be tough to just forget about a run that you’ve missed, but the best thing you can do is to just pick up where the schedule says you should be. If you can make adjustments and safely re-arrange rest days to find room for an extra run, great. If not, don’t stress! Just get right back into training.
- Do try your best to run your scheduled long run. This is especially important if you’re training for any sort of distance race. Each week’s long run builds off the week prior, so try to get in those miles – even if it means you have to be flexible and do your long run on the first day of the next week.
- Do make the miles you do run count. I’m a huge advocate for incorporating easy runs into your schedule, but if you have to do less runs in any given week, make sure each of those runs serves a purpose. Even though my weekly mileage was lower than it should have been, I made sure to do several quality runs last week. On Sunday, despite being tired from traveling and bored from running laps around my sister’s hilly neighborhood, I was determined to get in 10 relatively quick miles. Since I had skipped a tempo run earlier in the week, I pushed for several of the middle miles and made sure that I kept my pace quick enough throughout to average a sub-8:00 min/mile pace. This was still technically an “easy” week because the overall distance was less, but running faster than race pace will help increase my speed and endurance (or so I hope!).
- Do start the new week refocused and ready to run. Training plans last a long time. And chances are, you’ve still got many weeks before the big day. Don’t let the runs you skipped in the past affect those you need to do today, or those you will be doing tomorrow. Just chalk it up as a learning experience, and an unplanned opportunity to give your body some extra rest. Then hit the ground running the next week. Literally.
Now if you end up missing a week or more due to illness or injury, your approach to getting back on track will be a little different. In that case, you’re going to seriously have to re-examine your plan to see what you can fit in and how you can safely re-build up your mileage to get to where you need to be. But even then – it’s usually not the end of the world! I won’t go into it in this post, but I missed an entire month of running when I was training for my first marathon. I spent that month in the gym, logging many sweaty miles cross-training on different machines. Was it ideal? No. But I made it. And with a little flexibility and smart planning, you will too!
In other news, summer is coming to a close. And that means it’s time to announce the winner of my extremely competitive Shape Up Summer Challenge! (I know you’ve all been waiting for this with eager anticipation).
After my super scientific pick-a-name-out-of-a-hat drawing of the names of those who commented or emailed me, the winner is…… Alex, who got extra entries for doing the challenge right from the start! Congratulations Alex! Please email me your choice (gift certificate or Larabars) and your address and I will get that out to you ASAP. Thanks to all of you who participated by trying the workout!