Whilst we all have the best of intentions with our training, sometimes life gets in the way and we miss a run. The question then is, what should you do if you miss a run?
As is the case with most of the advice I offer, the answer is that it depends. How long was the run meant to be? What time do you have left in the week to fit it in? Will moving the run reduce the quality of an equally or more important run? Let’s look in more depth at how to decide if it’s worth trying to squeeze in the run, or chalk it up to “one of those things”.
How long and what type of run was it?
Really what we’re looking at here is whether or not the run was one of your 1-2 key sessions for the week. If it was just an easy run, or didn’t have much purpose on your plan other than clocking up some miles, you could give it a miss and not move your training week around. If, however, the run was meant to be your main speed work session or your longest run of the week, then it’s worth including it still in some capacity.
For marathon training in particular, aside from an injury, never skip your long run (this is another reason to potentially do long runs on Saturdays rather than Sundays as you have more wiggle room).
When else can you do it?
Logistically you have to consider if you have time to do it later in the day or week. If you can, great, but think about how it fits with the rest of your training plan before you just go out and run.
Let’s say you knew you had a busy week, and this meant your plan already had two harder sessions on consecutive days. Shifting the first run to an evening instead of a morning , when you were planning to run the following morning isn’t going to give you the benefits you want. You’d be better to amend one of the sessions to something a little easier, or skip the lesser session entirely.
Session swapsies or split it up
You might not need to miss any training at all. If you were due to do a hard effort session, or long run and it’s a possibility, simply swap an easier/shorter run and reschedule the other run to a more convenient time. This usually takes some forethought, but can sometimes be done at fairly short notice.
One final option I’ll propose is to simply add one some miles to other runs. If you have to miss a 6-miler early in the week, you could try adding an extra 2 miles to three other runs that week if you wanted to. Generally I advise using these as easy miles, mostly warm-up and cool-down to prevent over-training that week, but for a session that’s already easy, because you’ll be spreading the load out, you could be excused for popping a couple of faster miles in the run.
When it comes down to it, running is our hobby and should be fun. Occasionally you won’t get all your training in, but the odd missed session is unlikely to have much impact. If you’re missing several runs per month though, it’s time to reogranise yourself, or accept the limitations of your circumstance until they change, whilst working to still optimise your results.
Written by Kyle Brooks, Running Coach based in Norwich, Norfolk