Have you just had a stomach-lurching realisation that your half marathon is merely a couple of weeks away and that injury, illness, time constraints – or procrastination! – have meant that you’re seriously under-trained? Whatever you do, don’t bin your race number just yet! Follow our simple guide to emergency pre-race prep and you’ll be smiling all the way to the finish line.
If you’ve missed… up to five days’ training: Your fitness loss will be negligible. If this wasn’t due to injury or illness, start with an easy 30 to 40-minute run. The next day, do 40 minutes of fartlek to help stimulate your fast-twitch muscle fibres. Then, hop back into your training plan at the current date and don’t bother making up missed sessions.
If you’ve missed… six to ten days’ training: This will have resulted in roughly a five per cent decrease in fitness, from which you can easily recover. You have plenty of time to transition (not jump!) into full training. Again, if skipping sessions wasn’t due to injury or illness, follow the same transition prescription above, but then resume training at the point you left off, not at the current date.
If you’ve missed… more than ten days’ training: Take a week to transition back to training, then, increase your long run by no more than 2K (1.5 miles) per week, with a shorter long run every third week. You can complete a half marathon with a long run of 16K (10 miles), so don’t worry if it’s a few kilometres short of your original plan.
If you missed out on training due to injury: If your hiatus from training was due to injury, add running-specific strengthening exercises to your routine to shore up your biomechanical weak links that are injury-prone. Transition back into full training only if each step of the above transition plan is pain-free. Ice after each run to reduce inflammation.
If you missed out on training due to illness: If most of your symptoms have disappeared, take a full week to gradually ease back into training.
1. ‘Do focus on your weekly long run,’ says UKA coach in running fitness Jane Greenfield (www.janesrunners.com). ‘Remember to run it at a pace that feels relatively easy – you should be able to chat for most of the time if running with a partner.’
2. ‘Do some faster repetitions as this will make your pace feel more comfortable on race day,’ says physiotherapist Dave Jelley, founder of jelleylegs running holidays (www.jelleylegs.co.uk).
3. ‘Do include a taper period in the last two weeks of your plan,’ says Greenfield. ‘In this period you should aim to reduce the number, length and intensity of your runs in order to feel fully rested and ready to perform at your best.’
1. ‘Don’t attempt to compress your 14-week schedule into the last five weeks as you will hurt yourself,’ says Jelley.
2. ‘Don’t lie in bed and fantasise that despite not doing enough training you are going to do a personal best and win the ‘first lady over 40′ prize,’ says Jelley. ‘Be content to just enjoy the event and get round before the organisers head for the pub.’
3. ‘Don’t be frightened to adopt a walk/run strategy. You’re running for enjoyment – make sure you do!’ says Greenfield.