If you’re tight on training time, having a solid race and even a great race is well within your reach.
Whether you were battling an early-season injury or simply slacked on your training, you now find yourself one month away from a race you signed up for a while ago. The problem is that you are nowhere near race-shape. Can you make it to the starting line and walk away with a respectable showing?
The short answer is yes, and even though you may be in for a ruder awaking than some of your cross-training counterparts, there is still an available means to perform your best and achieve what is realistically possible on the day. Regardless of your circumstances for falling behind on training, you can still salvage a good race by making the best use of your workouts over an abbreviated period.
Being honest with yourself is the key to setting obtainable race goals, proper workout paces and ensuring that you increase training volume smartly to avoid getting hurt before race day. “My advice with only four weeks to go is to not over-commit on the training. I know it is tempting for people to ‘cram’ but running a race is not like writing an exam,” explains professional runner and coach, Malindi Elmore. “It needs to be a mind-set of working with your body and maximizing advantages.”
A runner who was injured but diligent in his or her cross-training has a far different prospectus than the runner struck with slacker-syndrome. For the former, the outlook can be rather bright.
“After working hard in the gym cross-training, this athlete could expect to really run well and get close to top form,” says coach Alicia Shay. “It might not be a PR [but] there is a potential that they could take a swing at their best time if they transition well from cross-training to running workouts.”
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A runner going from little training to guns blazing shouldn’t expect a personal best but, “They could expect to gain a decent amount of fitness before race day,” explains Shay. Perhaps you’ve consistently been running but haven’t done structured workouts or aren’t quite race-day sharp. “It would be difficult to run a PR off only four weeks of working out but this runner could build fitness quickly and expect to run a solid race.”
Keep the momentum going and a personal best might be in sight with only a few more weeks of focused workouts.