Derailed And Pissed – Handling Unexpected Changes In Training

We are in the heat of spring race training. Today is the last day of February (THANK GOD…also, Punxsutawney Phil, I want my money back), and most of us start ramping up our mileage in mid-march/early-april.

As a mom of three living in Northeast Ohio, I’m no stranger to germs and the frustration that comes with training through gross winters. I knew it was only a matter of time before everyone in my home got sick. It began with my 8 year old, moved to my 4 year old, then to the 11 month old, and now the 35 year old (my husband). I seem to have gotten a tad bit of this nasty cold, but I may just be fighting it off.

Still, I’m a type A personality who has serious anxiety when plans change. It’s frustrating to all of us when we don’t meet our mileage for the week. Whether we are sick ourselves or mopping up piles of snot and holding a baby upright in a rocker from the hours of 8-8, many of us will experience derailed training.

The good news is that you can use the downtime to complete some other very important running-related tasks! Keep reading.

Sharpen your mental game. So many runners neglect reading books and listening to podcasts that will help them mentally prepare for race day. To me, this is essential and should receive just as much attention as physical training. Think about it: When your legs want to quit, or when you hit that infamous wall, the only thing you have going for you is to inhale confidence and exhale doubt. You should train your brain to be just as agile as your legs!

I recommend Jeff Galloway’s Mental Training For Runners as a starting point. This book is nicely organized, easy to read, and – brace yourself for the teacher in me that’s about to come out – asks you questions that require critical thinking and reflection to answer. Consider diving into the following activities to help #trainthebrain for race day:

  • Make a list of mantras to repeat when things get tough. A mantra is a positive, repetitive phrase that will help you keep going when you feel like you can’t.
  • Identify the spots that typically “hurt” when you feel discouraged or don’t feel like running. Do you know these can be phantom pains? Identifying them and working to eliminate any apprehension related to running on something supposedly “sore” can remove roadblocks in your training.
  • Make a list of your biggest supporters and let them know that you need their encouragement as you move through the tough season of your spring race training.


Assess your schedule and make changes as needed. For some reason, runners like to make 24 and 16 and 12 week plans and refuse to adapt them as necessary. As a coach, I made entire plans of this length at a time! When I started getting to know Erin from Run Strong Coaching, her coaching style is to make plans two weeks at a time. #MINDBLOWN. What a novel idea.

With kids, jobs, school work, a house or apartment, pets, etc – our schedules rarely stay the same and on point for months at a time. Plan ahead, but don’t be afraid to change your schedule. Consider reflecting on the following questions as you reflect on your training plan:

  • Are you continually stressed trying to run X days per week? How can you change that to better fit your schedule, but still be in line with your running goals?
  • Are you running at night or in the morning? Would switching to the alternative work better? Why or why not?
  • Do you have the help you need for upcoming long runs and peak training weeks? What changes and back-up plans should you put in place to make sure you can stick to your mileage?

Get your copy of the Run Like A Mother Planner and outline your goals!

Assessing your schedule with your running and training plans will help you feel more prepared and less stressed in the long run (pun intended).


Finalize or confirm race day and/or weekend plans. True story: My whole family is coming with me for my first marathon debut in Pittsburgh in May. I want to be as prepared as possible! To make sure we can all have a great weekend, I’m making plans regarding the following – and you should, too:

  • Book a hotel in walking distance from the start, but not so close that it will wake kids up at 2 am as they set up for the race.
  • Check on the location of restaurants and hotels – can we get out at a reasonable time after the race, or are we bound there until they reopen the streets and city?
  • Locate the nearest Walgreens because I can promise that someone will need something medical or baby related.
  • Make a list of all your gear so that you can run through it and make sure everything is packed for race day. Funny story: I forgot my shoes in Ohio for my first timed 5K that took place in Detroit. Yep.
  • Make a budget – price kids activities and food options and prepare ahead. Cash is the best for sticking to a budget, so take that amount out in cash and stick to it for a weekend that doesn’t produce financial hiccups.
  • Consider the time of year and get stroller gear that will keep your kids happy. Nothing sucks more than walking around a city with kids who are too hot or are getting rained on. I suggest checking into rain shields as well as stroller fans – two of my life savers!


Assess your training up to this point. Check your stats and ask yourself if you’re really running those easy runs EASY or if you’re out of the gate a bit too fast. If you use a HR monitor, are you in the best HR zone for easy runs, threshold runs, and more?

Many injuries can be prevented by training correctly. If you read my last post, you’ll see that I was injured several times simply because I ran so many training runs at race pace. Be careful!

If you have a watch or app that spits out states, take a look at them. Analyze the data. If you need to, make changes.


Tackle this stuff and you will be back to running before you know it! Remember that you don’t lose your fitness in a day, or two days, or even a week. Resting won’t set you back to the beginning of your running career. You might feel a bit like the Tinman when you get back to it, but you’ll be back to yourself after a run or two.



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