While a lot of races have been outright cancelled, quite a few races (especially the big ones) have been postponed to the fall. To illustrate this, below are some of the big marathons, along with their rescheduled dates:
- Paris Marathon – October 18
- Boston Marathon – September 14
- London Marathon – October 4
- Flying Pig Marathon – October 11
and… the NYC Marathon is still slated for it’s original date – November 1st.
Assuming the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end before the fall so that the above races are held, you’ll likely be asking yourself how to modify your training for your fall race, or if you’re registered for more than one, how to train for multiple races that are closely spaced together.
Here at UESCA, we’ve been fielding quite a few questions regarding this topic, hence this blog post.
WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
Right now, the most important aspect of your training is to stay in shape – from both physical and mental points of view. From a physical standpoint, the last thing you want to do is allow yourself to become deconditioned and have to start back from scratch once your training starts. With gyms closed and social distancing in full effect, for many, this represents a very challenging environment to train and exercise in.
As such, in-home workouts and solo cardiovascular workouts outdoors are going to be your best and quite honestly, your only options right now. If you have any injuries that you were seeing a physical therapist for (or thought about going to see one), seeking out or continuing care via telemedicine is likely a good course of action.
SHOULD I RUN EVERY RACE I SIGNED UP FOR?
The short answer is it depends on how many races and what their dates are. For example, if you registered for the Flying Pig Marathon (Oct 11), London Marathon (Oct 4) and the Paris Marathon (Oct 18)… the answer is no, you should not try to race all of them. However, if you have two rescheduled marathons that are at least a month apart, then it shouldn’t present an issue – so long as you get adequate rest and are not injured.
Assuming you have more than one race that has been rescheduled to the fall and you plan on racing them, your training schedule will look a lot different than you originally envisioned. Taper periods will likely be shorter, there will be an increased focus on rest and recovery and less of an emphasis on long runs during the time in between races.
As such, if you typically follow a classic periodization model for your training, you can likely throw that out the window.
But I digress… back to the original question. Pro runners don’t race many races per year due to the fact that they want to peak for each one to have the best chance for winning. For the rest of us non-pro’s, the reason why it is often not recommended to run a bunch of races closely spaced together is usually due to the increased chance for injury and/or overtraining. However, at the end of the day, the ability of an individual to be able to run multiple marathons close together without having any negative consequences (read: injury) is largely individually-based. Additionally, unless you’ve trained for this type of scenario before and know how your body responds, you won’t know how your body will respond to multiple high volume days relatively close together- hence, why it’s usually not advised.
Therefore, if you have two or more marathons planned for the fall, it would be a good idea to seek out a running coach to see if it is advised and if so, how to best structure your training to minimize the chance for injury.
WHAT IF I DON’T ‘RACE’ EACH ONE?
Just because you ‘fun run’ a marathon does not mean that you’re putting less stress on the body. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There is a larger correlation between injury and time spent running versus injury and high intensity/less time spent running. Therefore, don’t assume that just because you only plan on ‘racing’ one of the fall marathons that you’ll somehow be at less risk for injury. While I get this strategy from a peaking or goal-focused point of view, just know that you also increase the likelihood of getting injured due to greater time on your feet.
IT’S OK TO SAY NO
I get it, you planned your race season around a particular race or races and perhaps even had to qualify, run a set number of races, or win a lottery to get in. However, even with all of these factors, if the rescheduled date(s) or your current training situation makes it not ideal to race the marathon(s) you had planned on running, it’s OK to pass – it really is.
I’M GOING FOR IT!
Whether it’s a good idea or not, if you plan on participating in a bunch of the fall marathons, you’re going to need guidance. As noted above, there will likely be a few trends:
- Shorter tapers between races
- Less focus on distance between races
- Increased focus on rest and recovery
- Increased focus on intensity between races
As it’s impossible to prescribe a plan that will work for everyone – even if they have the same goal races, the exact specifics and nuances of a plan are individually-based and moreover, must be able to be adapted on the fly.
For someone attempting to run multiple fall marathons, the primary focus should be injury prevention. As high training volume is one of the largest factors for injury, it stands to reason that a standard build up for the first marathon with a focus on intensity and recovery (and not volume) in between subsequent marathons would be an advisable strategy.
Lastly, as this type of training program is unprecedented, there are no templates or even much evidence-based information to go off of. This is why it’s so critical to have guidance from a running coach that understands how the body functions, especially in regard to stress responses and injury prevention.
To learn more about our Running Coach Certification and to get a code for $50 off, click here!