How To Make Up For Lost Running Time
By: VIDA Master Trainer & Running Coach Jeff Horowitz
Springtime is prime time for road racing, but many runners find that they have been unable to stick to a regular running schedule over the winter. If you are signed up for a spring race, you can still safely get up to speed if you follow these guidelines.
Don’t try to get it all back at once. It might be tempting to jump up to long miles as soon as possible in order to catch up, but don’t. Rest and recovery are as important to training as training, and if you overload the body with more training than it can adapt to, you may get injured.
The answer is to close the gap slowly until you are right where you should be. Increase the long run and the weekly total mileage by no more than 10 percent week to week to ensure that your body has only a manageable amount of stress to deal with. During this catch-up phase, you can safely raise that increase by an additional 5 to 10 percent. This game of catch-up could take a month or so, but be patient.
Cross Train to speed things up. Use non-impact cross training to increase your cardiovascular capacity without adding stress. Cycle classes in particular are a great option because they primarily work the quadriceps, which are often under-developed in runners. By strengthening these muscles, you reduce the risk of injury even further.
Don’t rush your readiness. If you focus on a race date to guide your training rather than on how your body feels, you’re taking a big risk. If your body tells you that it’s not ready for more – whether by soreness, interrupted sleep, or flagging enthusiasm – then you need to scale things back. If this puts competing in the race in jeopardy, so be it. No race is worth getting hurt.
Good enough is good enough. If you aren’t able to do everything you hoped for with your race preparation, don’t give up on having a good race. Sticking to a good training plan is the best way to ensure a good race, but you can deviate safely from the straight and narrow and still do well.
Keep in mind, though, that the more you deviate from your plan, the more the odds start stacking up against you. So train as well you can, adjust your race plan and expectations accordingly, and have fun in your race.
Need some extra help getting ready for a race or improving your running form? Email Jeff for some tips at firstname.lastname@example.org!