Ask a Coach, with Dennis Barker
Ask a Coach, with Dennis Barker, is TCM’s way of helping you get the most out of your running and training. Barker, who coaches Team USA Minnesota’s professional athletes, answers your questions and offers helpful tips targeted at runners of all abilities. Today's topic: Training Plans and Coming Back from Injury.
Question: "I was following my tried-and-true marathon training plan for this year's marathon, but I lost nearly three weeks of training to an injury. I'm nearing 100% again now, but can I still get back on the plan? If so, how? Should I focus more on one aspect of training now – long runs, marathon pace runs, hills, speed, etc?" - Adam via email.
Barker: Provided there isn't a specific part of the training that brought on the injury, or may further irritate it, you should be able to get back on your plan. You should backtrack a few weeks and pick up the program at a level you think you can currently handle. As you progress, you will have days when you feel stronger. Take advantage of these days to run either a little farther or faster for which the schedule calls. This will help to make up for some of the lost time. But if you push a little ahead of the schedule on occasion, also take a little more recovery following those efforts.
However, if you begin training again and feel that it is taking too much out of you to try to fit all of the elements of the tried-and-true method into a shorter timeframe, simplify the program. First and foremost is to make sure you can cover the distance, focus on getting your long run to the point of giving you the confidence in your ability to finish the race. You can always add some hills or speed work after that if time permits.
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Dennis Barker has coached successful marathoners from beginners to U.S. Champions. He is the coach of the Team USA Minnesota Distance Training Center. For more information, visit his page on Team USA Minnesota's website or follow him on Twitter @dbinsaintpaul.
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