Recovering From Sandy

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | By Hal Higdon
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Got a question about running? You're in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon's Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


After training for the past six months and following your novice 1 training program, I was ready to go to New York. Unfortunately, the marathon was cancelled (as it should have been), and I am left with a whole lot of training and no marathon to run. I am currently trying to get into Philly's Marathon in two weeks, but not sure they have a spot for me. If they do, how would you suggest I continue my training?


First, let me congratulate you for your attitude. A lot of runners left New York City disappointed, some of them angry on the timing of the cancellation, but as the enormity of the disaster becomes better known (FEMA has had to put 34,000 in hotels and motels!), it is time for us all to move on. I am particularly proud of those runners who showed up in Central Park wearing their orange-colored marathon T-shirts and numbers for an untimed fun run. And even prouder of the runners who took the ferry to Staten Island to bring supplies and help with clean-up. (Everybody put your hands together.)

But to your question: A number of directors of closed races have agreed to stretch their numbers and welcome people like you. I hope you get into the Philadelphia Marathon, and if not, there are plenty of other marathons to race this fall. Jacksonville, for instance, where I spend my winters. Two weeks out? I would simply repeat Weeks 17 and 18 of my program. You’re not going to gain much fitness, but you won’t lose much either. If you (or others) need to choose a marathon three or four or five weeks out, I would simply back up the appropriate number of weeks. Do you or they need another 20-miler? Probably not, but balancing long runs between 12 and 16 miles will get you ready to run. Or forget miles: Between two and three hours.

A lot of runners spent a lot of money and did a lot of training to go to New York and came home with only that orange-colored T-shirt instead of a medal around their neck. But think of it. You get to wear that T-shirt proudly for the rest of your life until it is tattered and laid lovingly into a drawer. Yes, you were there in 2012. Let’s hope the recovery is swift for those left behind in New York and other areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.

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