What should you do when your race training doesn't go to plan? | Allie Kieffer interview - Women's Running

What should you do when your race training doesn’t go to plan? | Allie Kieffer interview

Author: Kate Sellers

Read Time:   |  January 19, 2022

We talk to long-distance runner and run coach Allie Kieffer to find out what our options are when our race training hasn't quite gone as expected

Whether you’re training for the marathon or a 5K, life sometimes gets in the way. It might be an injury, a family event or needing to work overtime. So, what happens when you know you’re not going to be ready for a race?

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Just before the London Marathon last year, I spoke to Allie Kieffer. She’s an American athlete, a long distance runner and run coach, and an ambassador for NURVV.

She’d been preparing for this race in London for what felt like her whole life. “I’ve entered the race so many times!” she exclaimed. “Something has always gotten in the way.”

Determined to get to the start line this time, Allie had even come over to the UK weeks ahead of the big day, hoping to avoid any coronavirus travel complications and get herself acclimatised during her last few weeks of training. Yet, she did not compete.

Becoming unwell during her final training block, she decided to pull out. “Of course, the day before the event I actually ended up running 23 miles,” she said wryly. “I think I could have completed it if I had pressed on. But I’m just not really interested in completing races for the sake of it right now. I wanted to compete, so I decided to wait until I’m ready for the next race.”

I was really inspired by Allie’s decision. I’m far from a running athlete, but I’ve run more than a few races that I knew I wasn’t really ready for – and then been disappointed with the result. And mostly that’s been because I wasn’t prepared to admit that hadn’t been able to put in enough time to my training.

For Allie, being open with yourself about where you are at before race day is key. “I’ve done races when I haven’t been ready for them – and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” she says

“But you have to make a decision with that knowledge and change the goal for your race. There are so many good reasons to do a race that don’t involve your time. All you can do is the best that you can – and make sure that it’s the best for you and your life, not what you think your best is.”

The other option? Pulling out. “A lot of people have asked if I was disappointed about London,” says Allie. “There was a period where I was disappointed, for sure. But because this time I chose to pull out, I realised that it’s not a door closing – I’m just taking control of the situation and accepting where I’m at to help myself in the future.” Advice that I, for one, can definitely learn from for my future races.

You can keep up with Allie on Instagram, or find out more about her run coaching on her website.

Written by

Kate Sellers

Kate Sellers

Kate is our Senior Digital Executive and a keen runner. She's also a qualified Personal Trainer and yoga teacher, so she knows her stuff about workouts, cross-training and stretching. She loves to combine running and exploring, so you'll often find her testing out the latest kit in exciting locations across the UK and beyond. Kate champions exercising for enjoyment. "Most of the year, you'll find me running for fun and wellbeing," she says. "That being said, I do still love the thrill of training for a race from time to time!"

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