Training Plans Are Made For Tweaking

For who of you that didn’t read my post on Saturday, my friend Amanda is training for the San Francisco Marathon and last Sunday she run 15 miles, the longest run she has ever run.  Well, she did amazing and ended up to run almost 16 miles, as she got lost!

Bob gave Amanda her first well deserved Space Blanket=D

The training schedule I made for her says that this coming up Sunday she should run 16 miles.  However, this morning in my inbox I found an e-mail from Amanda asking me if Friday would be too soon to do her 16 milers since she will be out of town for the weekend.  Questions of this kind are very common among beginner runners.  When I was training for my first half Marathon I remember too wondering if it was okay to switch around my schedule.  The answer is YES!

We all know how important it is to follow the training as faithfully as possible.  However, there will be days when it is difficult to run as established because of family and work circumstances or because you are sick or injured.  If you miss a day, a week or more of marathon training for any reason, here is few things to keep in mind:

  • At the beginning of each week look at your training schedule and determine if any workouts need to be rescheduled or adjusted because of prior commitments you might have.  If you there is absolutely no way you can do the run on a certain day, be flexible and creative. You could run to work, run home from work or run to a friend’s house for the dinner you had planned, like Amanda is going to do on Friday.  Just look ahead, and if you know that you are going out of town for a week end, for example, do your longer run the week before, and take an easier weekend of shorter runs when you’re away from home and most likely won’t know the area very well to run comfortably without getting lost.  The important thing about marathon training is to be consistent, and get in the mileage over the weeks leading up to the big day.  Do that, and it doesn’t matter whether you did that long run on this Sunday or that Saturday. Or even on a Tuesday, if that works for you.
  • Training plans are made for adjustment. Don’t become obsessed with your training plan. Nothing is going to happen if you skipped a run because you are on a business trip, a late night, a social event etc.  Use them as guides, and adapt them to suit your life, your goals, and unexpected circumstances such as injuries or bad weather.
  • Learn to listen to your body and respond to its needs.  If something hurts while you are running on it, your body is telling you that you are abusing it.  Skipping a day or two will not cause you to fall into immediate de-training.  No need to feel guilty and add the missed workouts or mileage into your future runs.  If your body tells you it needs rest, listen! The main goal is to remain healthy, injury free and enjoy running, not to stack up as many miles and consecutive days as you can.  When you miss few workouts, it may be necessary to drop back to an easier schedule for few days and gradually return to the previous one.
  • If you were injured, make sure you are fully recovered before you begin training for a marathon again.  Once you feel you are ready, start with slow runs and low mileage.  Do not start with tempo runs, speed or hill workouts.  Resist the very strong desire to “make up” the time you lost by shortening the taper period during the last two or three weeks of your training. It won’t do any good to you.

Bottom line is that you should have fun, stay fit, don’t take it too seriously, listen to your body and adjust any training plan you are following to suit your convenience.

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.” ~  Sir Roger Bannister

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