Falling Apart

Wouldn't you know it, only mere days after writing a post about my training plan and expressing fear of missing a long run, it happened. I missed the 10-mile run scheduled for last Saturday at the end of week 5.

For what it's worth, I had what I consider a good reason. No, I wasn't sick or tired. I received a last-minute invite to backpack and hike the 26-mile Mackenzie River Trail on Saturday and Sunday. And no, I have no regrets about it. It was one of the last sunny weekends before our Oregon rainy season begins, I haven't had a chance to go backpacking all summer and leaf-changing autumn is my favorite time of year.

The awesomeness of the trip aside (and "awesome" is the proper word, as it was indeed awe-inspiring), it does leave me concerned about how to continue with my training plan. I definitely had a workout this weekend26 miles with a backpack and lots of elevation changes left my legs in far greater pain than a 10-mile runbut I don't believe hiking works as a substitute for running. Even though both exert leg movement, hiking and running use muscles in very different ways and aren't even in the same ballpark regarding aerobic/anaerobic experience. I see hiking as a form of cross training.

Photos don't do it justice. This forest was like something out of a fairy tale.

So what now? I was way too sore and not stupid enough to fit in a long run when I returned home Sunday evening. Next weekend should be a tapered long run of 7 miles, followed by 12- and 13-mile weekends. Here are the options as I see them:

  1. Do the 10-mile run this weekend and push the rest of the training plan back a week.
  2. Make no change. Stick with the schedule and hope I make the jump to next week's 12-mile run without problems.
  3. Alter my long runs over the next couple weeks to accommodate for the loss and get back on track.

Option #1 is out right away. As I mentioned in my last post, the training plan ends at my marathon so no time is left to push anything back. Option #2 and #3 are something of a toss-up. Honestly, I have no idea which one would be best for me. I'm not worried about having enough stamina to finish the runs, but I am worried about overtraining and risking injury. Right now, I'm leaning toward #2.

Before you criticize me for overthinking this, I can assure you I know it's not the end of the world. It's still early in the training and missing one day isn't going to cause my ACL to rip (hopefully). Even Hal Higdon says that his training plans aren't set in stone and that missing a run won't ruin everything. It just raises interesting questions about how to adapt to the change, and that knowledge may come in handy later if I miss a more essential long run. I also don't want to fall into a mindset that it's okay to slack on the training schedule.

Do you have any thoughts on this? Any recommendations for adapting to a lost long run? Or do you think it isn't even worth the trouble? If so then I'd love to hear from you.

By the way, the fact that I hiked the distance of the marathon wasn't lost on me. The length seemed surprisingly far, but I keep reminding myself I won't be hauling a full backpack or climbing over rocks in the race.


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