So you sign up for a race with every intention of training for and running said race. I assume that most of you, like me, intend to follow your plan (for the most part).What happens when your training plan goes off the rails? How to find Plan B and make it to the finish line.
When your training plan goes off the rails
Life happens. Be it from work obligations, family issues, illness or the dreaded running injury, sometimes your training plan really goes off the rails. I believe all training plans are designed with a little leeway. Missing a week or two of running usually does not throw too much of a wrench into your plans. But, what happens if you miss a significant amount of time away from running? What if you are out for more than 4 weeks?
How to make the most of a not so stellar training cycle
Do a realistic assessment of where you are. Consulting your Dr. or PT is helpful if your lapse was due to injury. Do a truthful and realistic assessment of your physical health and running fitness. Did your injury allow you to keep up your fitness in another way (cycling or swimming?). Will racing causing a relapse?
Research other race options. Many larger marathons and half marathons have other shorter distance events happening at the same time. Often times, there are options to switch to half marathons, 10k’s or 5K’s. Some races even offer a relay option for marathons and half distances. That way, you are able to attend the race event and cross the finish line at your pace and distance.
Revise your goals It can be difficult to adjust your race goals. Coming back from an injury or long absence from running is one of those times where it’s often necessary. Instead of focusing on the time or distance that you are not able to do at this time, focus on what you can do.
Use what you have Adopting a walk run strategy is a useful tool to use after a running setback. Often, this can help you log more miles than straight running. Reaching the finish line is reaching the finish line.
Be smart No runner ever wants to have to DNS or DNF a race. If you are still too injured to run or there are no shorter options at your disposal, backing out is sometimes the only option.
[You may also enjoy reading: Using Run/Walk intervals after an injury]