Training for a marathon (or half-marathon) seldom goes exactly according to plan. Setbacks occur—work or family obligations take precedence; illness or injury derails workouts. Generally speaking, if you miss a week of training, you can jump back into your plan as long as you were consistent and diligent with your workouts for at least four to six weeks before the break. But if your downtime stretches from 10 days to two weeks (or more), you have to re-evaluate your comeback strategy. The first move? Try not to panic. “Take a deep breath,” says Matt Forsman, a San Francisco—based running coach. “Whatever you do, don’t try to cram in the runs you’ve missed. This may increase your risk of injury and may hurt your efforts.” Instead, consider what caused your layoff and how close you are to race day when you’re able to resume training. Those answers will help determine the best plan to get you back on track.
Life interrupted training and you resume running…
Six weeks out from race day: The goal here is to restore momentum and endurance without pushing it. For the first two weeks back, reduce each weekday run by a mile and slow your pace by 15 to 30 seconds per mile, says Forsman. Stick to your scheduled long run; if the distance seems daunting, break it into two runs spaced at least four hours apart. After that, resume training at the point you’d be at if you hadn’t gotten sidetracked.
Four weeks out: Your primary goal is to get in that last long run. For the first week back, follow the mileage and pacing strategy above. Run your final monster-miler three weeks out, but at 10 to 20 seconds per mile slower than normal, then start your taper. The slower pace helps compensate for the fitness you may have lost during the break, Forsman says.
Two weeks out: At this point, chances are good that you missed your last long run. Let it go, or risk going into your big day not fully recovered, says Forsman. Resume your plan at the point where you’d be if you’d never taken a break, and follow through with your scheduled taper. If you’re set on squeezing in one last superlong effort, break it into two: 10 miles in the morning, 10 in the evening, with self-massage, an ice bath, refueling, and rest in between. Complete both of these runs 15 to 30 seconds per mile slower than normal.
Illness derailed your schedule and you resume running…
Six weeks out from race day: Proceed with caution. “Longer and higher-tempo runs suppress immunity and can cause a relapse,” says David Nieman, Dr.P.H., head of the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University. For your first week back, run/walk half the distance of your scheduled weekday runs (run three to five minutes/walk one minute), and reduce your long run by one to two miles. That second week back, increase your weekday runs to 75 percent of what’s on tap for that week, add a few strides after a couple of runs, and do your long run as scheduled, says Jay Johnson, a coach and director of Boulder Running Camps in Colorado. Skip speedwork during those first two weeks, then resume training as normal.
Four weeks out: For your first week back, run/walk your workouts as described above. Complete a final long run of no more than 17 to 18 miles three weeks out, says Johnson. Proceed with your three-week taper, but be realistic. If you missed crucial long runs, “you’ll have to face the fact that you probably can’t run the marathon you want,” says Johnson.
Two weeks out: “Marathons [and halfs] are stressful, and with only two weeks left, you are at a much higher risk for a relapse,” says Nieman. That said, you can run, but your goal now is simply to finish. For the two weeks leading up to your event, run easy and reduce the longest run of your taper to 70 percent of the distance.
Injury disrupted your routine and you resume running…
Six weeks out from race day: The type and severity of your injury ultimately dictate your comeback. But if you can’t hop, you can’t run. “You should be able to hop in all planes and balance on each leg barefoot, in shoes, and on uneven surfaces,” says Bruce Wilk, P.T., author of the Running Injury Recovery Program and coach with the Miami Running Club. Make your first two runs short and easy—no more than three to six miles. If all feels well, resume your plan.
Four weeks out: That first week back, run two easy workouts of three to six miles and a long run the length of your last long run prior to your injury. “It’s better to have a successful 15-miler than risk a 21-miler where you could blow up,” says Wilk. Then begin your taper.
Two weeks out: Toeing the starting line so soon after an injury is dangerous. With two weeks left, you have time for just a few easy runs and one moderate long run of 10 to 13 miles (for marathoners; six to eight miles for half-marathoners). But be cautious. “The goal is to test how your body reacts,” says Wilk. If you don’t feel 100 percent, skip the race.
re-blog and credit to runnersworld.com