How To Adjust Your Training Plan When Life Happens

For anyone who has committed to an extensive training plan before… they know, things don’t always go *as planned*. For those of you who are committing to our CHAARG Run Club + maybe haven’t committed to a long term training plan — this is your head’s up: life will happen + you will miss workouts because of it! 

Life, work stress, illness, injury, global pandemics… things happen + they can upend our training plans. Last September I was training for my 2nd marathon + had nagging injuries that were keeping me from completing my workouts [at one point, I thought I had torn my meniscus — dodged a bullet there ; )]. Even though I had a less than perfect training season, I was still able to complete the marathon + do so with a smile on my face! Here are the some tips + lessons I’ve learned for when life happens + gets in the way of your training plan: 

There is no reason to try to *make up* missing a workout or two throughout this process. Listening to your body is an essential part of the training process! If you sleep really poorly one night, are super stressed with work or school, or just not feeling it — it’s OK to take a day off + not do what was *planned*. 

Here are a few helpful tips I’ve learned for what to do when you skip a workout. Did you skip your workout because you… 

#1] Slept through your alarm? You probably needed some extra z’s! Don’t beat yourself up about it. Try to pencil in your workout for later in the day. If you don’t have time, adjust the workout length to make it fit in your schedule. Doing a shorter workout still counts + is better than nothing. 

#2] Feeling really stressed with class or work? Take the day off. Stress takes a toll on our body similar to workouts — better to take some time to reset + re-center yourself rather than push through a workout [unless that workout will make you feel better… often times it does!]. 

#3] Super sore? During the first few weeks of training especially, you might find yourself really sore. Listen to your body! If you are too sore to run, focus on a different activity [like yoga, or gentle swimming]. Give your body rest as needed + don’t try to *push through the pain*. You can also always adjust your paces to go slower… no shame in slowing down! 

#4] Just not feeling it? Everyone gets in slumps + has days where they just simply are NOT feeling like they want to run, swim, lift weights, etc. This is normal + a very human experience! When you’re not feeling like you want to workout – try this: do 15 minutes. Typically this is enough time to do the warm up + start your workout — if after 15 minutes you still aren’t feeling it, then unlace your shoes, go home + rest! But the vast majority of the time, getting laced up + getting out there is the hardest part… you’ll be surprised at how often you decide to keep going! 

If you’re at the point where you have missed more than a few workouts, are averaging missing one workout every week, or have had to take more than a week off — you’ll need to adjust your plan + your goal! This is natural + happens — in September when I had to take 2-3 weeks off due to a supposed knee injury, I didn’t count out my race, but did adjust my plan + goals. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle a lot of long runs leading up to my race + I knew that my race *goal* was going to be out of reach. So, I adjusted — I looked at my mileage + worked in what would be reasonable to me ++ what would still be enough to get me across the finish line, I also focused more heavily on cross training + building endurance that way! Finally – I adjusted my goal to be very simple: just finish + be healthy. It took a lot of pressure off + was something I knew I could focus on! 

Here are a few tips for adjusting your plan + adjusting your goal when you’ve had to miss a few weeks of workouts. 

#1] Missing one week: Don’t sweat it + do your best to jump back into training after. You won’t lose fitness for just one week off. The workouts might feel hard, but you’ll be OK + be back to where you were in no time. 

#2] Missing 2+ weeks: Depending on how much time you’ve had to take off or workouts missed + the reasoning – you’ll want to adjust your workouts to get back into the swing of things! Reducing mileage + building back up into the plan is the best way to remain injury free – you don’t want to jump back in + go from 0 – 20 miles in a day. Focus on *time* of the workouts rather than mileage + supplementing with more cross training. For example — if you are supposed to run 10 miles, but haven’t ran in a couple of weeks, it would be better to ease into that with running 4-5 miles [or a distance that you are pretty comfortable with] + biking, swimming, or cross-training for the equivalent time to get you to 10 miles. 

You might have an unconventional training plan + that is OK. Your *longest run* might look like running 5 miles + biking for an hour — while you might not *PR* during race day, you’ll still be able to get to the finish line! 

The best part of being a part of a running club is the ability to connect with other runners + hear what they’ve done when their training isn’t going to plan! This is also why we are so excited for the CHAARG Run Club slack group… you’ll easily be able to connect with all of the other CHAARG run club members for extra support, motivation, + ideas for when you need to adjust your training plan! 

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Check out CHAARG Run Club + CHAARG 5K programs throughout the year to take your training to the next level!

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