What do you do when you aren’t motivated to run, or when your schedule gets interrupted and you have to miss a workout? If you are like most runners, then you try to make up that workout later in the week. I definitely recommend against doing that, especially when you are tapering for a goal race such as a marathon.

With Boston out of the way, the Spring marathon season is under full swing. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been getting a lot of questions emailed to me from people who are wondering how best to taper, and what they should do about missing workouts for one reason or another.

In general training, if you miss a workout, then just move on. You really don’t need to worry about 1 or even 2 missed workouts as long as you don’t try to double up later in the week. There’s no reason to risk an injury for one workout. If you are consistently missing workouts, then you should look into rearranging your schedule (either running or otherwise) so that you can find a way to get your workouts in when you are supposed to.

If you are tapering for a race, then any individual workouts that you do are designed just to keep your legs fresh. You aren’t going to get a lot of additional fitness in the last few weeks before a race, while you can easily prevent yourself from recovering from any lingering muscle damage. Trying to double up your speed or long runs right before your race can also prevent you from properly hydrating or restoring your muscle glycogen stores so that you can race at peak efficiency.

Here is an example from my own life, and is a big reason why I haven’t written in more detail about the Boston Marathon or the Olympic Marathon Trials. My schedule this week called for a short marathon pace workout on either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending upon how tired I was after my trip this past weekend. I also want to get another few miles at marathon pace in during a medium distance run over the weekend.

A very full weekend that involved a lot of sitting for long periods of time, a lot of standing, and a lot of walking around and driving led to being relatively tired when I got home. That was to be expected, and so I had scheduled my workout in for Wednesday anyway. A dead webserver at work as soon as I got in on Tuesday, though, meant long hours and a lot of stress over the past couple of days. I’ve barely managed to run 6 miles so far this week, all of which has been at an easy pace. I’ve been too tired for anything else.

So what are my options? Attempt to run my goal race pace runs tomorrow? Run further on the weekend? Or, just follow my schedule and run a bit light this week?

In normal training, I’d probably just count it as a cutback week and proceed normally. Since I am less than 2 weeks away from my goal marathon this Spring, I am certainly not going to change my plans for the rest of the week. Instead of running 45-50 miles this week with 2 runs at an up-tempo speed, I will instead likely run only about 30-40 miles. I may also skip keep my run easy this weekend if I am still tired to give myself an opportunity to rest.

Consider that the next time you have to miss a run or you just don’t have the energy to run the workout as scheduled. Chances are, you’ll do better for yourself by taking the rest than you would by suffering through the workout or messing up your schedule for the rest of the week.