A week away from work can make it easy to slack on your training.
Last week stood out as probably the toughest of my marathon training weeks – not because the schedule demanded more of me than usual, but because I completed the least number of kilometres, did no speedwork, and took three – yes, three! – rest days.
That’s what happens when you’re on a beach holiday. I stayed with my extended family in an eight-bedroom house to celebrate my cousin’s marriage. It was lots of fun and since I hadn’t had a proper break from work since I got married earlier in the year, it felt much needed.
But running on holiday is never easy, especially when a race is on the horizon. Here’s a look at the general positives and negatives – from my perspective – when it comes to cranking out training KMs during what should feel like a break.
The Good: While your family may not totally understand why you’d want to wake up at 6AM during a week off, they’re always impressed when you back to the house or hotel with a sweaty glow. Family will always give you a pat on the back for a job well done, whether it’s an easy 5km or tough 25km. Even if the run was far from stellar, they’ll make you feel like a star.
The Bad: The impending pressure that you’re missing out, whether it’s putting off a round of golf with the guys (even when you’re terrible, it’s still nice to get out) or going mini-golfing or playing on the beach with the youngsters. Runs just feel like they need to end ASAP so you can get on with your holiday.
The Good: When you’re staying with a big group, you’re almost always guaranteed to have a well-stocked kitchen. Every morning I could come back to the house with a full coffee pot and plenty of runner breakfast staples like bagels, fresh fruit, eggs, cereal and bacon.
The Bad: That same fully stocked kitchen can be a slippery slope, though. It allows for a ton of grazing throughout the day and stuffing one’s face in the evening. Thankfully, I held back at the rehearsal dinner and avoided alcohol, a full second serving of crab legs, mac and cheese and key lime pie the night before a scheduled long run the morning of the wedding.
The Good: You get to explore somewhere new! I actually enjoy getting on Google or MapMyRun the night before a new run and figuring out where I want to go, taking note of the key streets that I need to turn onto. And when you’re in a beach town, it also means seeing a bunch of cool looking homes to gawk at.
The Bad: Most people would love the flat roads and little elevation that comes with a beach town run, but the constant monotony on my legs actually left my quads to take a pounding. It did, however, make me appreciate the rolling hills of my hometown. It will be a long time before I curse the long, mountainous terrain of many of my runs at home.
While I’m no coach, I think it’s fine to feel like you can get away with a week where mileage doesn’t match your overall training and the paces may slip a bit. Plus, as Coach Budd Coates often says, it takes about two weeks of not running before you start to lose your built-up fitness.
In the final weeks before a goal marathon, I just wanted to keep a solid base so I could continue on with training when I got home. But I knew that I’d put in good training work so far – and knowing that made it ok to miss an easy day or grab an extra pale ale later in the evening.