Avoiding Fitness Loss

Got 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’m using your Advanced Half Marathon program to train for a half scheduled in 10 days. It’s my first time using the advanced program. Last week I did my 2-hour training run, and at some point injured my knee: either twisted it or just got a good old case of runner’s knee. I ran speed work Monday and was in some pain, and cross trained on my stationary bike Tuesday (in place of a 3-mile run) and did the same Wednesday (in place of a 60-minute tempo run). I’m not in pain anymore, but the knee definitely does not feel 100 percent. My question is, with the half marathon coming up so soon, what adjustments should I make in the plan? I plan on resting Thursday and possibly Friday, and want to do a long run Saturday but how long? I’m sure I’ll be okay to run the half after the taper next week, but I don’t know how much to cut down this week to prevent injuring myself further, without losing any of the fitness I’ve built up so far.


You won’t lose fitness. Actually, after a period of serious training you can consolidate fitness gains by cutting back on your training to half what you might have done in Peak Week. Remember, the taper period for a marathon is three weeks. Ten days is close to half of that. With that our theme, I would cut your workouts at least in half. Run only every other day if needed. Consider the approach of the legendary Oregon coach, Bill Bowerman, who would rather see his athletes undertrained than overtrained. See how you do in the half marathon. Hopefully, the knee pain will not resurface, allowing you to continue your running to any future goals you choose.

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.