In a perfect world, you would always get in your workouts. And jeans that fit you perfectly would cost $40 and Thin Mints would be good for you. Unfortunately, we live in this world, which is filled with late nights at the office, inconvenient colds, delayed flights, and alarms that somehow didn’t get heard. It’s inevitable you’re going to miss a few runs. What do you do when you feel like your training plan is derailed?
Here’s the first thing to know: It’s not a big deal to miss a run or three. You’ll still be able to go the distance, provided you don’t let one skipped run turn into two excuse-filled weeks. When a miss is inevitable, here are a few strategies to minimize the effect:
**When you know you have a hectic week coming up, switch around your training schedule so you can fit in as many runs as possible. While we all love a Saturday morning spent logging the miles with girlfriends, there is no rule saying long runs have to be on a weekend. They can be done on a weekday in the early morning or, taking advantage of long summer days, in the evening. (There is a rule, however, that says your legs deserve recovery after long runs, so the day after, go for a walk or take a rest day.)
**When a chaotic day catches you off-guard and you’re not going to be able to run, re-jigger your schedule on the fly. A good rule is to skip the easiest, shortest run (or workout) for the week.
**A corollary to the skip-the-shortest run rule: The harder workouts should be your priority because those are the ones that matter most on race day.
**If it’s inevitable you’re going to miss a long run, don’t try to make it up the following week. Instead, split the difference: If your previous longest run was 8 miles on week 8, and you missed the 9-miler on week 9, and you’re supposed to go 10 this week, go for 9 instead.
**What if you get sick? Rule of thumb: if you’re fever-free and have symptoms only above the neck—runny nose, sore throat, or headache—you can continue to run. If you’ve got a rattle-like cough or upset stomach, take a pass. If you’re knocked flat for longer than a week, consider being a cheerleader, not a runner, if the race is a month or less away. Otherwise, ease back onto your training plan once you feel better.
**Don’t get too worried about missing a week or so. Get back in the game with a positive attitude. Sometimes the recovery you get during that week propels you to some of your best runs yet.