Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.
I am currently training for my eighth marathon, and I’ve used your training plans for seven of them. However, I have taken a couple of years off and am now on Week 10 of the 18-week Novice 1 training plan for the marathon. Unfortunately, I have had to skip a whole week due to a calf strain. As part of my recovery, I hope to start cross training again in the next couple of days, but how can I get back into training after missing two long runs? Would you suggest modifying the rest of the training? How do I catch up on missed miles?
The simple answer is that you don’t. The week you missed is gone forever. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. Trying to play catch-up by adding more miles, or skipping ahead to do the final 20-miler in Week 15, will just increase your risk of getting injured again. That’s the bad news. But you’re a veteran and you’ve been there before- seven times. The scientists may tell us that we lose fitness if we stop training, but not all psychological benefits get washed away. A first marathoner might suffer symptoms of angst, but you’re beyond that.
I would resume training at or just before the Week 10 level. Take it easy and be sure to read your body signals. See how close you can come to the mileage in Weeks 10, 11, and 12. You’re lucky because the injury came in the middle of your training program, not closer to the race itself. This gives you a chance to rehab without getting into panic mode. If you think you need that final 20 for motivational reasons, take it. Otherwise, slide into the race itself with the goal of finishing, if not finishing with the time you would have achieved minus the injury.
One final comment is that if you haven’t already seen a physical therapist, utilizing one during your recovery phase might be a smart idea.