As much as we want you to follow the plan as it’s given to you, we understand that it isn’t always possible for you to do your long run on a Sunday or that threshold session on a Tuesday. You have a busy life and sometimes other commitments get in the way of your running. So, what can you do? Is it possible to shift your training around? It’s far better to re-arrange your plan rather than just bumble through as you go along.
It goes without saying that injury and illness are a reason to stop training. If it’s only a slight niggle or a minor cold, a couple of days off now will mean you recover quicker. It’s better to take two days off now and get better, rather than push on and have to take a week or two off later on in your training as things have not improved. If you only have a small niggle, the sooner you go and see a specialist, the quicker the rehab will be and the sooner you can get training again.
Within your training plan, each week you have key sessions and these are the vital ones that we want you to aim to achieve. They are situated in your plans so as to give you enough recovery time between each one and so that they are all manageable during each week. The key sessions are threshold, Kenyan Hills, 10k/5k sessions and the long run.
What we don’t want is for all your sessions to be squeezed together, for example having threshold and hills sessions back to back. If you do this, you will not give your body enough time to recover and you’ll end up going into the second session with tired and stiff legs. You can be sure that by doing this, it will lead to a problem…. not necessarily during that week, but a few weeks down the line. So always leave at least one day between the key sessions each week.
In terms of the long run, as long as you run it at the right effort level (at an easy, relaxed and conversation effort) it should feel enjoyable and not be too stressful for your body.
We sometimes put a session or half session the day before a long run (for example an undulating loop, a Kenyan Hills session or indeed a Park Run). This means that you go into the Long Run with some fatigue in your legs, but that’s OK. What you do not want to be doing is the Long Run and then a Key Session the day after the long run. You’ll carry the fatigue from the Long Run into that key session (which will be incredibly more significant than that created from a key session) which means you will underperform and the chance of injury and illness is greatly increased.
It’s really important that you don’t try and play catch up if you have missed some training following a period out with illness or injury. Don’t try to get back into your training at the point where you left off, or where you think you should be. You need to ask yourself where you are now and then take half a step back and get back into some comfortable and consistent training for a short while. Then you can think about catching up to get back on track. The warning here is to not get back into training that is too difficult instantly, instead give your body an opportunity to get used to training again. Think about how the sessions are feeling and what it’s like to run again and judge how your training is going. Once you’re happy with this, then you can move forward with your training. If you’re in any doubt then take things easy for a few more days before you head back into your training.