What To Do When You Haven’t Trained For A Race
I found myself asking this same question over the weekend as I realized that my first half marathon of the year is coming up in 5 weeks and I have had no structured training for it whatsoever. Whoops.
Let’s talk about what to do when you haven’t trained for a race.
There are a number of
excuses reasons I have for not being as dedicated to training as I was last year, and while some of them are valid, some are not quite:
- I don’t like running on the treadmill as much anymore and it has been too cold/hot/wet/crowded outside
- My last training plan was 12 weeks and I didn’t follow it exactly so I can just pick up later on into the plan
- My new shoes are causing me shin splints and the last time I ran with those I ended up with a stress fracture, so let’s rest
- I have been active with strength and HIIT classes so I should be able to pick up running where I left off
Before you know it, there’s only a few weeks until go time. I want to take some time to respond to aforementioned
excuses reasons and talk about what to do when you find yourself in this position.
1. “I don’t like running on the treadmill as much anymore and it has been too cold/hot/wet/crowded outside”
It’s true that I am not as big of a fan of treadmill running as I used to be when I had an entire cardio cinema at my disposal. I also discovered the benefits of running with a partner, something I thought I would never enjoy. Yes, I live in Chicago and it gets cold. Basically I can make lots of excuses for why I’m not running, but these ones are not valid if I am actually trying to train for a race.
2. “My last training plan was 12 weeks and I didn’t follow it exactly so I can just pick up later on into the plan”
Last year I followed Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Half Marathon plan, which is 12 weeks long. Since it was my first half, I was terrified and wanted to make sure that I followed that plan to a T. I started the plan with 8 weeks left to go, but was already running consistently so it wasn’t a huge deal that I had missed the first four weeks. As I continued running through the plan (ha), I started to slightly alter the weekly mileage recommendations to fit my schedule, but always made sure to get that week’s long run done.
I found that slight alterations didn’t ruin my training, so this time around my over-confident self decided I could do whatever I wanted in terms of weekly mileage. To date, the farthest I have run in training for this race is 7 miles. I should have run 9 this weekend. Not too big of a gap, but having barely run at all during the week, it’s enough to make me anxious.
3. “My new shoes are causing me shin splints and the last time I ran with those I ended up with a stress fracture, so let’s rest”
Ok, this one is definitely legitimate. The last time I ran through the pain of shin splints I ended up with a (self-diagnosed) stress fracture that left me sidelined for 2 weeks, so I am extra wary when I notice any pain in my shins.
I got new running shoes since it was time, but since they are a different brand (Asics) than what I normally wear (Brooks), they have taken some getting used to. I had been running in the Brooks Transcend, which is a super monster shoe that protects my feet/shins/body like a fortress (I think that may be the actual description). My new Asics are appropriate for me based on my running analysis, but are not quite as heavy duty. While my body readjusts to a new type of shoe and most likely an altered running gait, I have experienced sore calves and more recently shin splints. This weekend I bought some insoles that are supposed to help provide more arch support, so let’s see how that goes.
4. “I have been active with strength and HIIT classes so I should be able to pick up running where I left off”
I know that running is a totally different beast than strength training or HIIT workouts, but I have chosen to ignore that fact and continue working out 3-4 days at Sweat or in my building’s gym (which also coincidentally has treadmills I could be running on). Just because I have been getting in good workouts doesn’t mean they are the right workouts. Cross training is important, but if you are training for a run, you need to run. Period.
Tips On What To Do When You Haven’t Trained For A Race
Ok, so I still have a few weeks to prepare for this half, but if I don’t start making some changes now I am going to find myself totally unprepared. Here are some tips for making sure you can still rock whatever you are training for:
- Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone – dont like running on a treadmill? Too bad. If it’s the only training option you have, you take it.
- Make a plan and stick to it – Plan out workouts for whatever remaining time you have left and follow through. You have less wiggle room when you start getting down to the wire.
- Alter your training schedule for the activity you are preparing for – Training for a race? Your calendar should have a higher running to cross training ratio.
- Do your best – if you’ve cut it too close and there’s really no time to train, just do your best. No one can fault you for that!
- Have you ever cut it close in your training? What are some of your tips for a successful race?
- What’s your worst excuse for not training?
- What’s the best thing you did this weekend?