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.
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 run 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.
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.