I Can’t do my Long Run. What Now? Coach K to the Rescue!

Welcome to the third installment of our three-part series about the long run by Coach Karen. We discussed the “why” and talked about the “when, where, and wear.” Now it’s time to look at the times when things don’t work out as planned: “What should I do when I can’t do my long run?”

Written by Coach Karen Peterson
Edited by Pavlína Marek

My, my… Where did May go? Now that your race is officially NEXT MONTH (!!), it’s time for some real talk about the long run.

In the Run365 app, when you hit “Ask a coach,” it magically goes to me via email, here in my home in Colorado. As race day gets closer, I obviously get more of these emails, which delights me!

Without doing any math (you can’t make me), I estimate that about 95% of these emails six to eight weeks out from the race read something like this:

A woman runs through the woods
  • “Coach, I have calf pain during my long runs! What should I do?”
  • “Coach, I twisted my ankle and can barely run! What should I do?”
  • “Coach, my knee hurts really bad if I run more than 30 minutes! What should I do?”
  • “Coach, my daughter’s graduation is this weekend and I can’t run! What should I do?” 
  • “Coach, my niece’s wedding is this weekend and I can’t run. What should I do?” (Oh wait – that one is from me….)

Look, my friends, it’s bound to happen. In fact, it happens to pretty much all of us! Depending on your situation, it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

Yes, the long run is absolutely key to your training. But allow yourself some grace. Yes, the SF Marathon events take place at an absolutely amazing time of year in San Francisco! However, this also means that things can get pretty busy in the two months or so prior as your calendar gets dappled with events like graduations, weddings, etc. Missing one long run to be there for your community is not a big deal.

When is it a bigger deal? When it’s stress- or injury- or illness-related.

If it’s stress – I see you! It can be tough to balance it all, and when your training is ramped up, it’s easy for it to create MORE tension and anxiety. Whether this is your very first event or you’ve been in the game for decades, employing mindfulness can not only lower your stress level, but it can also improve your run AND your recovery. If following fellow runners on social media (including Strava) helps motivate you, great. If you’re like me, you may find it healthier to keep it light and avoid the stress of seeing other people out there crushing it (and remember – we’re usually seeing the most share-worthy side of our friends’ experiences).

If it’s sickness – wait until two full days after recovery. Getting back at it too soon can ding your immune system at a delicate time. When you’re stepping back into the game, take things easier. If you have one, discuss your post-recovery training plan with a coach.

If it’s an injury – please consult a medical professional. We runners tend to keep going through injuries. However, ignoring an injury and/or pushing through it can (and most likely will) make it worse and can stop you from running your goal race at all!

If it’s life – it happens! Just get back on track as soon as you can, but if you miss more than one week or running, adjust your volume and reach out to me at coachkaren1964(AT)gmail.com or via the RUN365 app. We’re here for you and can’t wait to see you cross the finish line!

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