Do you want to know a secret while all runs in your plan are important the people that write them for you don’t really expect that you will do every single one. But how can both of those things be true. Well we get that things come up and life happens along the way and here and there a run or two will get skipped. Sure that can take away from your training just a tiny little bit. So if you’re skipping a run and you’re strategic about it that won’t really have a measurable effect on your training. Just for context I wrote this post two months ago when I skipped a run and I’m only getting the chance to put some finishing touches on it now! Tad bit busy over here!
Get other stuff done
Working a training plan, especially a longer one, pretty much a ninja level of planning and maybe letting stuff slide becomes necessary. When the weeks get heavy it’s a pretty delicate balance. Add a broken car, a few critical errands or a minor work crisis to the mix and something has to give. It’s okay if every once and a while that’s running. Sometimes there doesn’t even have to be big things come up. It could be the fact that you have no clean clothes, groceries and you need to take a trip to the doctor. If what you’re not getting to everyday is literally giving you serious anxiety. If getting that $hit done will calm you down a few notches then skip your run. Just make sure you get to that to do list when you do so you’re not right back here in a few days.
Playing hooky attitude
Have you ever noticed that when you skip something boring you should be doing like work or school it’s both exciting and exhilarating? It kind of makes you feel extra free for that moment. Skipping a run in a long training program can be a lot like that. Training programs alone can make you feel bogged down. Add to that fitting all the other stuff you have to slot in around it and it can be a lot! If you do skip a run and get that hooky feeling really embrace it and enjoy. I don’t think there are any studies done on this but I’m pretty sure it’s good for your mental health!
Sleeping in and rest
Possibly the best reason to skip a run is because you feel like you need it. It could be that you’re dead tiered, feeling an injury coming on, your muscles just can’t take it or you’re incredibly moody. These are all signs that you’re pushing the limits of training into overtraining. That puts you at very high risk for an over training injury. No single run or maybe even two is worth getting taken out by an injury on race day. If you literally just feel like you can’t right now it can be a good enough reason to skip a run. If you’re so tiered that you almost want to cry thinking about running and your sleep debt is rivaling your actual debt then I say do it. Take that time and use it well though, hang out and do nothing, maybe do some physio exercises and go to bed embarrassingly early. If this is why you’re skipping make sure to actually get all that rest.
Hit the next one harder
At some point you might find yourself just dragging yourself through all your runs. Personally I often find myself getting slower as training drags on. While most of your endurance gains do come from covering all those miles and the long runs but some does come from pushing yourself in speed workouts. You can find yourself in a position where you just can’t push in those hard workouts. This really isn’t a big deal overall you’ll still get over the finish line but if you’re really digging for that PR then maybe it is better to skip a run to really hit the next one harder. Your speed gains on race day really depend on quality hard workouts along the way. If you find yourself in this position it’s worth asking yourself if you are going easy enough on all the other workouts. It can be helpful to remind yourself to keep some gas in the tank for the more important runs in the week.
To have an awesome experience
It really doesn’t have to be an out of this world once in a lifetime type thing either. For example this year my nieces 5th birthday could cause some conflicts with marathon training. I could easily make the case that she’ll have way more childhood birthdays than I might run marathons but that would be the wrong way of looking at things. So if you get the option to have dinner with a friend you rarely do, to paddle board at sunset or to blow a kid’s mind with possibly the best present ever than skip that run! We should always remember that we are not mostly running to add days to our lives but life to our days. Missing out on a great experience is pretty much the opposite of that.
What run to skip
Alright so now we come back to earth a little bit. If you are going to skip a run, especially past the 10k training mark, you’re going to have to be strategic! If you only want to follow one rule let that be ‘never skip a long run.’ I have literally only ever skipped one, the third time I was training for the distance and it was because I was getting married. Now you don’t have to be that extreme but the long run does so many things. It is the major factor in building that endurance for race day. It also builds your endurance for the next week’s long run too. Covering a bit more each week also does a lot to build your confidence for the next week and on race day. I know this year I’ll be telling myself I’ve basically run 9 half marathons over and over again when I’m just trying to cover 2 on race day.
You could opt to skip any other run in the week. There’s a good case for skipping the shortest run, for obvious reasons. Another option is to skip a recovery run which basically means your next one will count as a recovery run. If you’re dreading the speed work in particular you could also skip that one.
Best practices for skipping a run
Skip it and you’re done right? What else is there to know? Well nothing really or maybe a lot. You certainly can cross that run out of the schedule and be done with it. Totally an option. But… if you’re feeling guilty or worried that skipping is going to make you come up short on race day there are some things you can do to offset the effect. One is simply to walk the run. I do this roughly once a month in training and I don’t even really count it as a skip. To my mind I’m doing something easier for longer so I get the rest and the endurance boost. Even better is to swap out the workout for something about as long for similar intensity (like a bike ride or swimming). If you do this it really doesn’t have an effect on your overall level of conditioning. It doesn’t help you to feel more rested but it can be a great way to deal with a low grade injury for a short time.
If you’re going to skip three runs in a three month plan it’s best that these are spaced evenly in the plan. So it wouldn’t be a best to skip all three in the same week! So if you skipped one last week maybe muscle through this one. If you haven’t skipped one yet in months and you’re feeling tiered than go for it! First time you train for a distance skipping a run can make you feel really anxious. It can feel like if you skip this one run you won’t finish on race day. That’s not true but it’s a totally normal feeling.
One more word on best practices is that unless you can set your self up for success maybe don’t start training or you’ll have to say no here and there. Signing up for marathon training (or whatever distance) does mean there will have to be sacrifices. It’s easier to fit everything in in the easier weeks than in the tough ones. You may not be able to travel then, attend a friend’s bachelorette until 3am on that Saturday or also start piano lessons in training. Not only because of marathon training but also work I couldn’t attend a family wedding this summer. Leaving early on Friday and coming back exhausted late on Sunday just isn’t viable for me right now. The idea of running 25.6km there was a no go too. Even if it doesn’t make sense to others that you have to say no that’s still okay. The anxiety, regret and disappointment of running your training plan into a ditch just isn’t worth it. Be realistic is this really the right time to start training in the first place?
Skipping a run here and there in training is okay and it can even be the right thing to do. Of course these are way more reasons than just these to skip a run but these are the most common ones. Hopefully knowing which runs to skip and how to minimize the effects of skipping a run on your training progress overall. You can check out my training plans here. Do you ever skip runs? How do you know it’s time to play hooky? What it the number one reason if you do?