Q & A: Make-Ups & Take Downs

Happy Pi Day, all you Mathletes out there! I like to call it “Pi(e) Day” and treat myself to a slice. I mean, who doesn’t love pie? I’m partial to fruit pies, cherry being my favorite. Though, nothing says home to me like apple pie.

Back on the topic of running, since this is a running blog and not a pie blog…though, I’m sure there’s a delicious pie blog out there and if someone knows of it, please send it my way, here are some recent questions I’ve fielded from newbie runners.

Q. If I miss a run, can I make up for it by tacking on mileage tomorrow?

A. Hmmm…tricky question. This depends entirely on:

  1. How seasoned of a runner you are.
  2. How healthy you are.
  3. What you are training for.
  4. How much mileage you missed.
  5. What type of workout it was.
  6. Where you are in your training.

The list of factors is endless. In general, my suggestions are thus (with respect to the above factors):

1.  Beginner: Maybe add 20% to the next run, other than that skip it and move on. Intermediate: If you feel up to it, add 50-60% of the missed run to your next workout. Advanced: Lazy bones-why did you miss it in the first place? Add a little              onto every workout for the rest of the week to make up the mileage and hit your weekly total.
2.  You’re injured: leave it alone and run when you’re better. You were sick: come back slowly and don’t worry about the missed mileage. Healthy: see above.
3.  Nothing special: add a little more to each workout. 15K or less: add 50% to the next two workouts (whatever they are). 1/2 marathon & marathon: take the next long run day and either do half the mileage in the morning and half in the evening of the same day OR do two long runs (70% of your longest long run) on back-to-back days.
4 & 5.  If you missed a recovery day, shakeout run, or other “easy” workout, forget about it. Move on. If it was a long run, see above. If it was a speed day, tack on a fast 5K or 10K to the next long run you have to work that anaerobic threshold.      6.  If it’s early on or you’re tapering, don’t sweat it. If you’re in a high-mileage week, do what you can with the above answers, give the circumstances.

Q. I’m injured but I still want to run my race in a few weeks. What can I do?

A. Don’t run. Seriously. It’s not worth ruining your body for one race. There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of races in your future if you are smart and take yourself down now. If you put yourself through the ringer and run a long-distance race injured, you run the risk of sidelining your running career for good. Is it worth it? For one race? Didn’t think so.

If you’re determined to participate because you’ve shelled out serious dough to register and get there (I feel your pain), then consider taking yourself down to the half-marathon instead of the full or the 10K instead of the half. Something might be better than nothing and if you make this decision early enough on in your training, you’ll be able to adjust your schedule and maybe even take some much-needed rest days.

Always seek the help of a physical therapist when treating injuries. They have neat little tricks and tools to help you feel better faster. Trust me. I’ve been there. Your future health is so much more important than one race.

Now go out and run!