Training Tips

Last Minute Training

What if your training didn’t go as planned? Unfortunately, many of us have been there at some point during our running career. We wanted to do great and had a wonderful plan but now it is a few weeks before the race and you are not where you want to be. Maybe, work got in the way. Maybe, you got sick. Maybe, you got injured. Now, you are just trying to figure out what you can do between now and race day to help so it is as much fun as possible. What can you do now? This depends on what derailed your training and how experienced of a runner you are.

First thing I recommend, assess what your goal of this race is. If your goal is to PR, probably best to realign your goal with what you have been able to accomplish in training. If your training isn’t where it should be, it is probably time to change your goal to completing the race. Having fun running the race. Feeling proud to accomplish something many of your friends haven’t even dreamt of doing. Save your PR for next time.

You didn’t get in as long of a long run as you needed, now what? Ideally, you have gotten in a long run that is about 75-80% of the distance you will be running on race day. If this didn’t happen, don’t panic but realistic with yourself. Walking can be your friend. This helps when your body gets fatigued to help reset and regroup. Having some planned walking stops can help if you haven’t gotten the distance, you needed in. Often, planning on walking through water stations or at specific distances that you know you struggle with can be helpful. Keep the walking breaks short so that you don’t struggle with restart running.

What if you only got to about 50% of the total distance but want to still complete the race. In this instance, I recommend you break their race into two parts. The first part is to run the distance you trained for. In this example, you can probably complete 70-75% of your race distance. Once, you get to that distance complete the remainder of the race walking at a comfortable pace. This will help to prevent injury and allow you to continue with training for your next race.

What if injury sidelined your training? First, talk with your doctor. Get professional help to really assess if it is safe for you to continue with the race as planned. If it is safe for you to bike or swim while you’re healing, use this. We know it isn’t the same as running but it helps. For those long runs, it is good to get your body used to the amount of time you will spend exercising. If you are not able to spend your 3 hour long run solely running, try combining it. Maybe you swim or bike for half and run the second half. It is not ideal but can help so you do not loose as much ground while you are trying to get back on track.

These are just a few recommendations to help when you get off track with your training. The most important thing is to step back and look at the big picture. What is safe for your body to keep doing? Remember to keep perspective. While we want to see you at the starting line on May 19th, it is more important to know when it is safe to keep training and when it is better to get some rest.

Dr. Jennell Kopp
– Medical Director of Athletics and Head Team Physician, University of Denver
– Sports Medicine Physician at Common Spirit
– Colfax Marathon Medical Director