Guys, remember 3 weeks ago, right after the Booty Work #30DayFitness Challenge?
I was feelin’ good, riding high off 4 weeks of steadily working out and consistently doing that little extra after a workout.
Guess what happened?
Short answer: Life.
Long answer: I prioritized other activities instead of my workouts.
I’m not one to accept excuses. I make them all the time but digging just below the surface, I usually can’t deny that there was something I could have done differently to get the result I had originally intended. As my dad says, you make your own luck.
Well, at the end of February, my college girlfriends and I were celebrating one of our besties saying “I Do” in Arizona. As a bridesmaid, the weekend was pretty crammed with activities since the moment we touched down at PHX to through Sunday brunch. I was able to get some hike time in and a touch of running but definitely not near the 13.1 miles I was supposed to do.
Then comes March. When I pledged to continue training as well as do the #30DayFitness Ab Challenge.
Yet, to be honest, I was barely finding time to do my basic workouts! How did March get so much busier?? How was I going to be successful when I could barely find the time already? My weekdays were work, commute, walk the dogs, feed the dogs, workout, shower, dinner, bed. If I was lucky, on an early day I’d be some before 9:30…Even just extending that a 5 minutes sounded miserable.
Then comes St. Patty’s weekend in Chicago followed by a weekend with friends in town and we have to help my parents in the burbs.. It was a hard line between social life and training.
This time I picked social life.
So now what?
It was my long days, too. The days you aren’t supposed to skip. Where do I go from here to get back on track?
Do I add miles to upcoming workouts to make up the difference?
Do I say the past is the past and move on?
In an effort to make myself feel better about skipping (I can’t be the only one who’s missed a few workouts out of 4 months of training 6 times a week, right???), I took it to the ‘net.
Here are the best suggestions if you find yourself in my running shoes (or rather, not in yours):
1. Don’t make up for lost training.
Don’t let a few 0’s on your training schedule derail you. The number one rule to follow when adjusting your training for missed days is: Do not try to make up missed workouts or mileage. Squeezing in extra workouts, adding “missed” miles to your warmup, cooldown, or easy days is the quickest route to injury and overtraining.
Time is our most valuable asset, we only have a finite amount of it. And you can only fit so much in a day. Adding extra miles in an effort to pick up what is lost means you’re cutting in to your recovery time. How are your muscles supposed to be ready for your next workout when they are still repairing from the last one?
Additionally, your running schedule is built the way it is to incorporate specific purposes each workout. Adding mileage to runs just to hit your total weekly mile goal may defeat the purpose for that run. Your cross train day is to strengthen different muscles. Your warmup is to prepare for the hard workout ahead. Your recovery days aid in recuperating by speeding the transport of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to broken down muscle fibers. (You need these!!) Your long run is to prepare you for the long haul – but you must get there slowly! If you do it before your body is ready, you risk straining something and it’ll set you back even farther.
Why do we freak out when we miss a few days of training? Most often, it comes down to an irrational fear that missing a few runs will ruin all the hard work we’ve put in over the previous months.
My worries about missing a day or two, even if they were my longer days, were surprisingly (and happily) unfounded.
While you might not gain any fitness during your time off, you won’t lose that much, either. You’ll experience a negligible reduction in fitness after taking as many as seven days off. Even if you need to stop running for 10 to 14 days, the amount of fitness you lose is insignificant – as little as 3-4%. Here’s some of the data.
Don’t fret if you’re forced to take time off for sickness, injuries or even to enjoy a night with someone you don’t see very often. You’re not losing as much as you think, and with a few quick workouts, you’ll be back up to speed.
3. Don’t let missed training get you down.
Newton’s Law: “A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.”
Many runners find it difficult to rebound after missing a few days of training. They’re off their routine, lose momentum and struggle to get started again. But as mentioned earlier, it takes more than a few days away from running to lose significant fitness, so you shouldn’t let a few missed days ruin the rest of your schedule.
Use the time off to work on other aspects of training, such as core work and strength training. Instead of losing time to injury, you can strengthen your body and become a more complete runner.
And, most importantly when you are ready to run again…
4. Ease Back Into Your Schedule
If it has been a few days of training missed, make sure your body is ready to get back to it.
Right after my 18-miler (just before St. Patty’s), my body hurt. Like, waddling through the office, “don’t worry, I’ll catch the next train” hurt. To jump back on a treadmill like it was any other day wasn’t happening.
I had to ease my way back in by doing smaller miles or lower intensity than I normally would have. Part of me was frustrated and antsy to get back to where I was but my body was calling the shots at this point so it didn’t matter what my ego wanted.
Listen to your body.
However you get back to it, remember that the point is you get back to it in the right way. Everyone will experience weeks where completing all of your workouts isn’t in the cards, or weeks where your body just needs that extra time. Acknowledge it for what it is – a change of plans – and then work with what you’ve got – the choice of your reaction to it.
It’s your choice to get back to training. You get to take the credit for your hard work.
Now get back to it.
PS. Here are some photos from one of our hikes on the trip to AZ!!