It seems like in every marathon training cycle or in the case of last summer’s half-ironman training period there comes a week where no matter how much flexibility you try to build into your training – a personal or professional conflict arises that is simply unavoidable. No matter how much shuffling you do you just can’t stick to the original plan.
For me, sleep is the first thing I am willing to forgo when it comes to making time to train. I’ve set numerous alarms at 3:30 a.m., and too many to count at 4:00 a.m. or 4:15 to get up and out the door on a workday to log 12-16 miles.
But when you start to introduce work trips, flights etc. sometimes you just can’t make it work. That is when I simply try to do my best and fit in what I can. Perhaps making a shorter workout more of a “quality” day, and shift the volume workout or “quantity day” to a later period in the training cycle.
The reality of the situation is this.
As much as I’d like to be one – I am not a professional runner.
I do not have a nutritionist, massage therapist, chef and training partners to share every workout with. I do not have time for a 2-3 hour afternoon nap every day before my second workout nor do I have a support network that makes sure that nothing gets in the way of my training.
I’m a Husband, a Dad, an employee, a boss and a runner in that order.
Maybe Dad comes before Husband sometimes depending on Landry’s mood – but runner always has to be last.
I used to fall into the trap of trying to make up a workout that was missed due to a conflict an illness or the need for an unscheduled rest day if I was a little bit beaten up.
I realized a few years ago that a missed day is simply missed. Trying to make up for it is just going to put added stress on your body during another period of your training cycle and your chances of injury or overtraining are exacerbated. So now, I just move along as if nothing happened, take the extra rest as a blessing and hop back on the horse.
This week the organization that I work for is hosting a 24 hour race. It is a 4-race event with an Ultra-Marathon, Relay Ultra and a pair of 8.4 mile races. I will be there to support the event, help with timing, usher volunteers and help out wherever needed. Not a lot of downtime to do anything more than grab a few hours sleep – so getting in my Saturday 11 miles and Sunday 20 miler is not going to happen.
Instead I am going to take my rest day as planned on Friday traveling to the event. Coming off of last week’s 71 miles and Sunday’s 21 – miler, along with 40 miles already this week including a tough group workout with my training partners on Wednesday, I need that rest day.
On Saturday I am not going to think about my workout that I am missing or the fact that my training has been disrupted. I will be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of athletes and I will simply help them along their way to racing and having a good time.
On Sunday instead of running long, I am going to hop into the 8.4 mile pajama run and do some racing. It is an odd distance, I will have had very little sleep and been on my feet all day on Saturday. No big expectations for Sunday. Instead I am going to make that my quality day.
I am going to run the race as a tempo workout – with target paces of 6:50, 6:45, 6:40, 6:35, 6:30, 6:25, 6:20 through mile 7 and then see what we have left for the final 1.4 miles of the race. If we can run another 6:20 and then perhaps something around :6:10 pace to close it out we would run a time of 55:45 +/-.
That would be a tremendous workout and very good training for Cottonwood running those paces on a hot morning. If I have time for a long warm-down, I may try to tag along with one of the ultra-marathoners who is still running the 8.4 mile loop 22 hours into his/her event. This will give me 17 +/- miles – 8.4 of which will be high-quality miles on Sunday – all that we will be missing will be the 11 miles from Saturday at a relaxed pace.
Maybe I will run them on Monday, maybe not. But either way I’m not going to sweat it.
We have had a tremendous training cycle to this point and the only mistake we can make right now is overdoing it.
At the end of the day if we as amateur endurance athletes can run between 90 and 95% of all of our planned workouts, we are doing just fine.
As an added benefit, we’ll be able to sneak in one more race to our age 45 year before our birthday on the 31st of July. We had a lot of wins in the last 12 months, new PR’s in the half-marathon, 5K and 5-mile distance as well as the sprint and half-ironman triathlons.
We didn’t get that marathon PR, but that’s o.k., we have to leave a little something to shoot for after we turn 46.
Lesson for today – don’t be too hard on yourself when things pop up unexpectedly. Running is the perfect metaphor for life – because in this sport you need to learn to roll with the punches, after all – shit happens.