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Have you ever signed up for a race and put forth the effort to train then the few weeks leading up to the big event life gets in the way and you’re not able to run?  I can say that has happened to me numerous times this year.

It happened the first time leading up to the 2012 Disney Half Marathon in January.  I went to Chicago for Christmas for a couple of weeks; I did not do my long runs and did not eat properly at all.  What’s even worse is, I didn’t do ANY training runs the week before the half marathon either.  I was not in to this one at all and ended up walking the last 5 miles.  If that were to happen now, I’d be ok but that was only the second half marathon after a full year off from racing to have my baby.  I still had an extra 15 pounds to lose at that point as well.  I won’t post my time for that race but it was my worst time by far of all time.  Then came the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February and I was back on track.  My extra weight was gone and I had trained hard with a respectable time of 1:47:42.

Now let’s fast forward to my spring half marathons.  I ran the First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon in May of 2012 in Palos Hill, IL during a work trip to Chicago.  I didn’t do any runs the week of and did not practice healthy pre race habits however somehow I finished with a PR of 1:39:41.  I trained extremely hard for this one and was below pre pregnancy weight so I don’t think that week of bad habits and no running had any effect on me.  I ran the North Shore Half Marathon in Highland Park, IL June 6, 2012.  Unfortunately I was only able to squeeze in two 5 mile runs in a 3 week period and didn’t do a long run for 2 full weeks – long story as to why.  It was a VERY hot day that day and the course was extremely hilly but I still ended up finishing in 1:49:40.  It was definitely not my best time, but even if I ran as I was supposed in those 3 weeks I would not have had the best time due to the hills (which we are not used to in Florida) and extreme heat (which we are used to but I still can’t push it to my limits on that kind of weather).

I ran the Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in July, 2012 with another bad running week, the week before the race due to being out-of-town for work again.  It was another super hot and humid day in Chicago and I ended up finishing in 1:53:07.  My lack of running the week before my race was catching up with me.  It didn’t help that my IT band and knee started bothering me at mile 8 either and I was practically at a “fast walk” the last 3 miles.  I regrouped and made sure I was at home the week of my next half marathon which was the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9, 2012 and flew in the Friday before the race instead of the week before.  I did my long run the Sunday before, tapered properly and ate like a champion the week of and I finished in 1:41:35.  Finally back to my comfortable time!

It happened again leading up to my 5 mile race I did today where I couldn’t run for a week because I was out-of-town for work then I ended up getting a painful blood blister on my foot.  I ran once the week of but still finished with a respectable 35:51.

If you find yourself faced with a race that you slacked off for the week of or even couple of weeks leading up to it, if you trained properly for the months leading up to the race you will more than likely be fine.  A week is not going to take away all the hard work you put forth, especially if you are running a full marathon and you’ve been training for 18 weeks or longer.  The rest might actually do you more good than harm.

Here are some of my tips when you have slacked off a bit leading up to the event:

  1. Never try to cram in miles you weren’t able to run.  If you were forced to take some time off and it’s only a week before your race just do your moderate taper runs.  If you try to make up mileage and cram it in to that week or 2 before you will either exhaust yourself and not do well in the race or you’ll injure yourself.
  2. Eat like a champion and drink plenty of water.  The increase of carbs leading up to the big race (I’m talking 10 milers, half marathons, 20 milers and full marathons.  There is no need to card load for 5Ks or 10Ks) will store that much-needed glycogen to keep you going and if you’ve trained properly leading up to the race, your body is already ready for the mileage. Also, being completely hydrated a few days before the race will keep you going strong as well.  In any situation, rather it be perfect where you were able to train 100% correctly or not, you need to be hydrated in the days leading up to the race.  Not the morning of.
  3. If you only missed your longer run the week before the race, try to at least keep your legs going with short taper runs.  This will keep the blood flowing and keep your legs in running condition.  You’re going to taper anyways so just be sure to keep with the lower mileage and don’t do anything more (as I explained in the first tip).
  4. Stretch and keep your muscles loosened up.  If you aren’t able to run the week or couple of weeks leading up to your race, make sure you stretch and keep your muscles from tightening or cramping up.  Don’t over do it though and try not to stretch a completely cold muscle.
  5. Make sure to get in a warm up mile the morning of the race.  Warming up will get your body familiar to what is about to happen.  I know if I haven’t run in a couple of day then just go straight to race pace with out warming up, everything on my body will cramp up.  This will be especially true if you haven’t run in a week or 2.
  6. Lastly, don’t dwell on it and trust in the training you did do leading up to your break.  As I stated, if you’ve trained properly for months, a week or 2 isn’t going to totally kill your ability to run a successful race.  If anything, learn from what happened and get it right for the next one!  As my graphic says, just get out there and do it even if you think you’re going to do poorly.  You can end up totally surprising yourself.

XOXO The Glam Runner