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It Can Be Good For Marathon Training To Not Go As Planned

Things definitely don't always happen as expected.

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Marathon training is life consuming. Oftentimes you have one goal race in a year, or two at a push, with a dedicated 16-week training plan pencilled into our calendars before we’ve even marked in our bestie’s birthday or annual leave.

But what happens when something goes wrong with this ‘plan’?

Your 16 weeks are derailed, you get injured, and/or said-bestie plans their wedding the exact weekend of your goal race?

It’s actually a good thing, promise. It’s fine for your plans or goals to change, and in fact it could actually improve your running long term. Below are 5 examples.

Changing your plans means you might sign up for a race that hadn’t crossed your mind before. We can get hung up on the big races, meaning we overlook the smaller, cheaper races that often have more personality! I have a bucket list of races, which has stopped me signing up for a number of other marathons, mostly due to the expense of these race-cations (my poor long-suffering boyfriend is sick of our holidays revolving around the Marathon Majors).

It forces you to consider why… why do you want that PR; why do you spend hours and hours training for a marathon? Focusing on these will help you with this race and the next. It will bring out the determination when the training is tough, the weather’s bad or you’re just too tired to run 15 miles before work.

You don’t always need a traditional 16-week plan. Cutting it short or even giving yourself an extended plan to get into shape can be a great way to mix things up. One of my best races was the New York Marathon in 2013 where I had just 10 weeks to train; I nailed every workout, didn’t get hung up on the finish time and enjoyed every mile. Okay, almost every mile, but not mile-23 (all uphill just before Central Park, who could love that mile?). You might find that a different approach to training actually works best for you.

Races aren’t all about PRs, so changing your goal for the race into something that isn’t so time focused can be a really good thing. Whether you try to nail negative splits, smile through every mile, run with a friend or as a pacer, it gives you a totally different perspective of a race when you’re not constantly looking at your watch.

Priorities change. Whether it’s a new job, house, or planning a wedding, you might not have the time you thought you’d have to  dedicate to your training plan, and the prospect of regular runs, yoga, strength and Pilates sessions don’t seem so manageable. Whether you then move your race, change your goal or simply cancel that race altogether, that’s okay! Be kind to yourself, whatever you decide, you’ll do the best you can.