What to Do When Life Completely Derails Your Long Run

Big things can get in the way of training, but you can make a quick comeback.

Steve asks: I was planning to do my 32K run, but for various reasons life got in the way. Just terrible weather, I felt tired, and family obligations piled up. Anything I can do? I’m training for my first marathon, and this would have been my first 32K ever. How much does this set me back?

Life has a way of interrupting even the best laid running plans. The good news is that you have successfully built up to a 32K run, which means you have logged some serious training miles already to build up your base.

Disruptions in training are not ideal, but they happen to every runner. Often these glitches impact our mental state more than our physical fitness level. It’s most important to take care of these interruptions and deal with bigger responsibilities first, and then, when you can, get back to training. And in fact, it takes at least two weeks of doing no exercise to start losing any of the endurance you’ve built.

Keep this in mind: when you can’t run long, run as long as you can that day. Even a 5K run will help you maintain your fitness level until life returns to normal and you can resume your training. (Most importantly, these shorter runs will help you mentallyand relieve that stress of missing the intended run.)

Even with a disruption of seven to 10 days, you should be able to pick up your training where you left off given your base. I would suggest easing back into your training plan, starting back on a day with a moderate or easy day before jumping right into a hard speed workout or long run.

When it comes to that next long workout and you have the time back in your schedule, you should be ready to tackle that higher mileage again – you may even find you have more energy. For example, if the next weekend you have 28 kilometres scheduled, consider going in with a goal of doing at least a 25K run. If you feel great, feel free to add in those additional kilometres.

Just like that, you’ll be right back into the thick of your training.

If your marathon is still more than a month away, you still have time to get in a 32K before tapering. For runners who may be targeting an earlier race and have less training time left, get in the longest run you can manage (without hurting yourself) and then follow your taper plan.

Remember, once your training runs are in the 28K range, you have the physical fitness needed to run a marathon. The 32K+ runs are as much for your mental psyche than they are for our fitness level. While reduced mileage may not be your ultimate goal, you should have the fitness to cross the finish line and complete your first marathon.

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