How to deal with the ‘what ifs’

Training for an endurance event is hard.  It takes an awful lot of time, will power and selfishness to get through the 16-odd weeks of training to make it to the start line of a long distance race like a marathon.  And the thing is, not matter how much you plan, how well adapted your training plan appears to be to your day-to-day life and commitments, something will always happen.  I hate to tell you, but that is just life – things happen that are beyond our control all the time. It would be boring if it didn’t!


But when you’ve got a marathon to train for, runs to complete and stretching to do, how can you handle the hurdles that will doubtless get in the way over the months building up to race?  


Damage Limitation

Of course, one of the best ways to stay calm in the face of the unexpected, is to try and expect it in the first place.  It is so worth being organised whilst you’re training, and working out in advance when you can and can’t do things.  Whilst you’re chowing down a well earned recovery meal after your Sunday long run, take a look at what you’ve got coming up in the week – at work, at home and in your plan.  


For example, you normally do a Monday morning strength and conditioning session at the gym, but your youngest child needs to go to the dentist first thing and your partner has an important meeting at work, so can’t take her.  Look at where you might be able to move your session too… the kids have a party on Saturday morning, which a friend has offered to take them to, leaving you with a free morning.  Why not move your session to then instead?  You can pick up the Christmas cards and wrapping paper you needed to get that morning on the way through town to the dentist.


Doing this on Sunday every week will help you work out where you can and can’t fit what you want to do it around your life. It will stop you panicking about having to miss sessions for other activities and help you to stay on top of what you need to fit in on top of your busy life. If you use an electronic calendar, colour code your sessions and treat them like you would any other appointment in your diary.


How to deal with it when it does go wrong

Of course, things will happen and so here are some ways to minimise the impact on your training.

What if… I get ill

Getting the sniffles during the winter happens to the best of us, but there’s need to let it get in the way of your training if your symptoms are above the neck.  Running can sometimes prove a great decongestant – a bit of fresh air can be a real cure-all.  However, if you’re suffering all the muscle aches and a fever, or any of the horrible symptoms that come with flu, then the advice is not to run. Be honest with yourself: if you’re just feeling a bit ‘meh’, a run might be good for you but equally don’t run when you really know you shouldn’t.  

If you miss a session through illness, don’t worry too much.  Just hop back into the next one once you feel better, but take it easier than you might normally.


What if… I get injured

Go and see someone.  Too many runners simply push through pain and in a worst state than they started in!  Whether it’s a physio, chiropractor, sports masseur or us here at Body Happy, a professional will really be able to help you manage the situation before it stops you in your tracks completely.  Try not use Dr Google, she won’t help – she’ll just make you worry more.  It might be something that a couple of days rest will cure, but you’ll only really know once you’ve asked someone who knows you and your body.


What if… I am too hungover

This is where a run will really help. Take it easy but don’t be tempted to skip it – no matter how bad you feel! You might want to wait until you’ve had a greasy sandwich and plenty of water but don’t skive.  You’ll just feel worse.  And you could always try our PT Mark’s favourite cure – a bottle of coke, a handful of crisps and some jelly babies!  


What if… I go on holiday

Being away from home can throw your running routine all out of whack, but being on holiday is really no excuse to miss out on training.  Try running first thing in the morning, before it gets too hot and before the excitement of the day gets in the way.  Look at your run as a way to explore before the rest of the tourists are out – you can have some of the city’s best sights to yourself for a bit!  Mark’s wife, Cathy, travels a lot for work, and always uses that magic hour before everyone else arrives in the city to fit her sessions in.  If you’re stuck for where to go, try and find a river or the prom along the beach – at least you won’t get lost that way.   


What if… work is taking over

It happens to us all.  We get given a big project to look after and end up shoving everything else to the side to get it done.  And that’s OK – somethings really are more important than your hobby.  However, try and find a balance, it will help your performance in work.  Try and get out before you get to the office, or for half an hour at lunchtime to clear your head and renew those creative juices.  It will also help you manage and work with your team more effectively, as running really can be a great outlet if you’re feeling stressed and under pressure.


What if… I’m finding it too hard

Talk to us.  We’re here to help you! We can advise you the best ways to scale back your training to make it more manageable and to help you regain your confidence in your training.  We’ll be able to help you figure out what’s going on to make it all seem too much – rest assured,  you’re never on your own when you’re training with Body Happy.


What if… I just can’t be bothered

We all lose our ‘mojo’ sometimes, especially about half way through a training cycle.  Take a day off, no matter what your schedule has on the cards.  Go for a walk, have a coffee and a long chat with a loved one and don’t think about running for 24 hours.  Having a mental break from training is hugely important, and one day off won’t be detrimental to the progress that you’ve made.  This short break should help you to reset and renew your desire to train.


What if… The weather is really terrible

Oh come off it – skin is waterproof!



Cathy Drew Beresford


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