Training for a postponed marathon

For many runners, the past week has been full of disappointment. Races all over the world have been postponed or cancelled, including both the London Marathon and Brighton Marathon. London has been postponed to 4th October and Brighton is now taking place on 20th September. When a race is postponed, training has to go on but with a different date in mind. I’ve done some research and settled on a plan of action for training for a postponed marathon.

My marathon journey

Brighton won’t be my first marathon, but it might be my last. I’ve done London twice and ran the 50 mile Gower Ultra a few years back. I loved last year’s London marathon but fitting in training for it was tough. I realised I couldn’t train enough to aim for a fast time. So this year, I’ll be doing it with my friend Martyn and helping him to fulfil his promise to do a marathon one day. Pushing a wheelchair around the course will take the pressure off to do it in a decent time and it also broadened my training. I have enjoyed taking part in a fitness boot camp weekly and adding in some gym sessions as well as running.

Run Walk Crawl Gower 50 Ultramarathon Review

In terms of the actual running, the approach I have been taking is to run every day. I struggle with motivation to run and have read a lot recently about habit over motivation. So to make running a habit, I started to run every day instead of walking the dog. The dog runs with me, of course. I’ve been for a run every day this year and intend to continue as long as it is allowed and we’re not all quarantined.

To build up my mileage, I’ve been doing one long run a week. Running every day has definitely become a habit and I’m enjoying it. However the one thing I’m not really enjoying is the long runs. This has pretty much made my mind up that I won’t run another marathon and like everyone, putting the marathon back to September has thrown me. So, these are the steps I’m going to take to keep up the training without overdoing it.

A delayed marathon training schedule

As I’m not following a training plan, adapting it is a little different. If I was following a plan, I’d stick to shorter runs to keep up fitness levels until the point where the training plan would start for the new date, then I’d start from the beginning again. As this doesn’t apply to me, I’m doing it slightly differently.

I still intend to stick to my run streak and continue running every day, between two and six miles. Then once a fortnight, I’m going to keep up with a long run. There’s a route I’ve been doing that works really well for me. My friend lives about five miles away. So, I’ve been running to her house, then we go for approximately a four mile run together and I run home. This has worked well for drink and toilet stops so I haven’t had to carry water. It also breaks up the monotony of running a big distance on my own. So, this is the long run I’ll keep doing every other week for as long as I can.

If we are all forced to self quarantine, I’ll keep running if it’s allowed but stop with the long runs to my friend’s house. I may still do a ten to fifteen mile run once a fortnight if possible. If we’re totally confined to the house, I’ll be attempting to exercise at home. This would be the most challenging situation for most runners – and dog owners. I’ve found this article with some home workouts. We’ll also be bouncing on the trampoline and running around our very small back garden. Fingers crossed it won’t come to that.

photo of a dog sat in a bluebell field with hills in background

Online advice for coping with postponement

In addition to the above home workouts, there have been a couple of articles written on how to cope with a postponed marathon. Runner’s World suggest planning something special for what would have been race day and even running the distance alone if possible. They also suggest allowing yourself to be disappointed, whilst also being grateful. Marathon training makes us fitter and stronger, ideal for dealing with the current health crisis. We also need to be grateful to the organisers for putting our health and wellbeing before their need to hold the race.

They also have a really useful article about running safely during the Coronavirus pandemic. Overall the advice is that it’s fine to run outside, better to avoid groups and definitely avoid spitting or coming into contact with spit. Moderate exercise is good for the immune system but hard runs such as marathon or half marathon distances can put extra strain on the immune system. They advise avoiding those for now.

There is a lack of real advice on training schedules when a marathon is postponed at present. However, I’m sure that will change over the coming days so I’ll add in some more links when they’re available. Please do let me know how you’re coping and what your training strategy is. We could all use some advice and moral support.

Training for a postponed marathon | How I'm going to be training for the postponed Brighton Marathon and links to expert advice on keeping safe and running during the coronavirus pandemic. #running #marathontraining #marathon #runninglife #runners #distancerunning

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  1. Hi Nat, staying fit for a postponed marathon must be quite disheartening, but at least you are still getting out for those runs at the moment. Staying fit at times like this is important. We are in strict isolation over here and can only leave the house with good reason and we must carry a prefilled in form or must have sent a text message with the reason, time, date and location of our journey. Luckily leaving the house for personal exercise or to walk the dogs is classed as a good reason! Hopefully, if stricter measures are enforced in the UK you will still be able to get your running in even if it’s not quite as far as you would like… Stay safe and stay fit!


    1. Oh I didn’t realise you were on an even stricter lockdown than us. I hope that we are all back to normal soon! Fingers crossed they continue to class exercise and dog walking as an important reason to go out. If we’re only allowed to go within a certain distance of home I’ll have to run laps of our road! I hope you’re managing to exercise and stay safe and well.

  2. What a great read and I love the way you are doing your long runs. After a lot of thought, we’ve decided to just do the marathon next year rather than in September. In the meantime, I’m still running a lot, just not quite as much as I would if I was training for the marathon. Here’s hoping the lockdown doesn’t get any tighter. It would be very hard not to run!

    1. Oh, such a shame we won’t be doing it at the same time now. I totally understand why you made that decision though. It will be difficult training for a marathon over the summer but I’d really like to get it done if possible, I don’t really want to do any more marathons so it will be nice to get this one out of the way. I’m also hoping that things don’t get any worse so we can still get out to run!

  3. From what I have seen even the strict lockdowns are allowed to take the dog out.
    Technically they still haven’t postponed the ultra I am doing half of – although today they finally announced that it more than likely will. What has happened is that the halves I had in the build up have moved and changed order so I am just hoping that it will come after that. I am useless and never really have a plan and what I really need to work on is fuelling. Do you not even need fuelling when doing 14 miles when you go to your friend’s?

    1. I have started to use a couple of cliff shot blocks during runs over 13 miles. I hope you still manage to do your races, it’s quite disheartening to have to postpone it.