Sickness Interrupts Marathon Training

Libby at Hells Hills

Libby in her San Francisco Marathon Ambassador singlet at this past weekend’s long run, a 25K trail race!

Recap of the Week: We hit the end of March, and my baby turned 4 months old! But the relevance of these things to running is that I went from 50 miles in January and 57 miles in February, to a whopping 100 miles in March! Most importantly, I’ve been careful with my mileage increase during this time and the size of my long run in proportion to overall mileage. Here’s the figures:

Start End Total Long Run
2/28/2011 3/6/2011 19.3 11.7
3/7/2011 3/13/2011 21.1 10.9
3/14/2011 3/20/2011 27.8 13.4
3/21/2011 3/27/2011 26.2 13.7
3/28/2011 4/3/2011 21.7 15.5

Notice the dip in mileage this week but the big long run. I ran my first 25K trail race down outside Austin this past Saturday, which was an amazing experience.  (Race report will be up on my blog next week). But I had 26.5 total miles planned for the week, and I accomplished 21.7 miles of that plan. Let me explain…

No Such Thing as Catch-Up

Life happens. And if your training schedule is not designed to take this into account, you need to rethink things. Your training schedule not only needs to include this important fact, it needs to reflect how much interruption your life is likely to take. In the absence of excuses, procrastination, and laziness, what’s the probability of training execution going awry?

In designing my training for my first marathon at the SF Marathon July 31, I created a basebuilding plan of growing total mileage and long runs that was gradual and included many stepback weeks. I also topped out at two planned 20 mile runs, more for mental reasons than physical – to build more confidence about the upcoming 26.2 miles. Both the gradual mileage gain and the two 20 milers also took into account that I had higher chances than some of training getting off-track. Two kids with their little lives driving mine, one or more kids getting sick, me getting sick, husband’s work, etc. There was room to change it to be a little more aggressive without inviting injury, and I could do only one 20-mile run if I needed to. This week I was glad I planned it that way.

I thought my allergies were suddenly much worse last Saturday, but was so wiped out after my half marathon the next day and still not feeling well. Welcome to a bad cold. I took two rest days right after the half marathon to feel a little better, then worked out for two days, then needed to give myself a day rest before my first trail 25K race on Saturday. And I’m still not feeling 100%. Luckily, I know my body and can run through a cold – with nothing respiratory as part of my symptoms, running just made me a little more tired and made my nose run worse!

I fretted a little about my mileage deficiency, but I’m glad I listened to my body and happy my schedule was built around REALITY, where things like this happen. While I wish that I could have caught up on my training plan, I realized you can’t do that – there’s no such thing as catch-up on a training plan, just chances of inviting injury. The slow shorter midweek runs I did get in were my attempt to merely not get even further behind and understanding that I should see if I need to reassess my plan’s mileage gains and long runs for the next few weeks. Thankfully I had a fantastic run at Saturday’s long run, my 25K trail race, so I’ll plan for now to just stick to the schedule and let go of those 5 miles I didn’t get in.

Coming up this week: A stepback week of 24.5 miles total, designed both to recover from my first 25K trail race and because I knew I would be coordinating packet pickup Thursday through Saturday for a major local race, the Big D Marathon & Half Marathon. Sunday I’ll run the half marathon – it was my first ever half marathon, my first half after having my first child, and my first half marathon I ever ran pregnant (last year with my second child)! If I both find the time and feel good, I will try to get in a few extra miles spread out in the midweek runs to keep my total mileage pretty level at 26-27 miles, but we’ll see.

I’d love to know: again, “the absence of excuses, procrastination, and laziness”, what are the things that have gotten your training off track in the past? And how have you, and your training plan, reacted to this?  Comments please!

Libby Jones has been running for 5 years, is a self-described “serial half-marathoner”, but has never attempted the marathon distance. She is also an active part of the Dallas-Fort Worth running community.  She is the Founder and Race Director of the New Year’s Day Half Marathon in Allen, Texas; the Executive Race Director for Heels and Hills, a non-profit geared towards getting women fit and active; the North Texas State Representative for the Road Runners Club of America; past Dallas Running Club President & 2008 RRCA Scott Hamilton National Outstanding Club President Award Winner; and an RRCA-certified running coach. She’s also a wife to Steve and a mother to Marissa (3 yrs) and Sophie (3 1/2 months).  Read her blog “The Active Joe” and follow her on Twitter @libbyruns

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