Sunday, March 14, 2010

Handling Missed Workouts

In my recent post My Marathon Training Plan,  I said that I learned that I shouldn't stress so much when having down weeks.  I was asked for tips in handling missed workouts.  Afterall, it is easy to look back and say that it was a blessing in disquise.
I am not that great at handling missed workouts while they occur. Just ask my boyfriend.  The level of anxiety created on missed workouts depends on why the workout was missed. A workout could be missed because of scheduling conflicts, sickness, injuries, oncoming injury, not wanting to run the scheduled workout or just plain not wanting to run.

Reschedule or alter the schedule.  If its one run I'm going to miss, I tell myself that I can make up the run another day or add a couple miles to other runs.  I can switch my track workout or tempo run to another day. I remind myself that I need to be flexible and a couple days won't affect my conditioning and the break will do me good. If there are a lot of missed days one thing I tell myself is having a recovery week is important.  Every 4-6 weeks a 30% reduction of miles is important in training.  I can either continue with the plan when I can or I can rework the plan.

Focus on what you have and not the lack. If it's a reduction in miles or a reduction in a workout I try and focus on what I did do as compared to what I didn't do.  Focusing on what I have is always better than focusing on the lack.  If I have a 5 mile on the schedule and can only do 3 miles, I focus on the 3 miles.  I focus on the fact that I still got out there and got the blood going.  This is true if I ride the bike, swim or do the elliptical instead of run. I got out there and burned calories.

Use down time wisely. If I don't have time for a run or have an injury I try and do strengthening activities. I'm a firm believer that strong hips/glutes prevent or minimize lower leg aches and injuries.  The exercises include situps, push-ups, lunge matrix (forward, side, side-backward lunges), monster walk, planks, leg lifts, bridges, running pose or calf raises.  I won't do all of these at a time but will do a combination. Not only do I know the exercises are strenghtening the muscles but I feel like I"m doing something.

Revise Goals. If you have an injury the only option may be to revise the goals.  When I sprained my ankle I knew a December marathon was no longer an option.  Since the money was already spent I changed to a half marathon and decided between a January and February marathon.  This decision wasn't made easily though and I did shed many, many tears.


If all else fails... CRY!!!
Is there a friend or coach you can talk to? Sometimes hearing someone else perspective helps see what's important.  And sometimes it helps to just cry.

What are the ways you handle missed workouts?

15 comments:

Lorian said...

Yeah, I have a tendency to obsess when I miss a run, which takes up too much energy. Thanks for the advice!

ajh said...

Good post. I am so bad at handling missed workouts that it is good for me to see what others do. I often fit them in later. ONe year I had to miss a week due to flu. There was no faking it and fitting it in. To this date it is the best half marathon I have run.

marathonmaiden said...

thanks for this! i beat myself up when i have to change or alter a workout. it's "funny" because i get so worked up over it but in hindsight it's easy to see the good in whatever happens.

Kerrie T. said...

Great post! I could really use some advice on strength training (that I can do at home). What's good for marathon training? I think I'll start using your lunge matrix.

Rob said...

Timely .. I got 5 miles done this past week due to a nasty virus. I try and think of a week like this as a recovery week. The experts say that recovery is the most important part of training and should happen about every 6 weeks.

sneakersister said...

I think that if you are very obsessed with following your plans then when you occasionally miss a workout it can really wreak havoc on your brain.

I've learned to look at missed workouts like this: I remind myself that in the big picture, a couple of missed workouts are not going to matter. What matters is the sum of all my training and getting to the starting line ready and without injury. 5, 10, or 15 miles are not going to matter that much down the road.

I never make up miles. I think that's a bad habit to get into. I just move past the missed workout an look forward to my next run. I also take the point of view that because I work very hard at my running, my body could probably use the break anyway.

Oddly enough, I just skipped yesterday's workout. I didn't feel like facing the downpours outside, I couldn't stand the idea of running on the treadmill, and I had stuff to do all day so I would have to get moving with that run first thing in the morning and didn't feel like rushing around. Egh. Who cares, it was 5 miles.

Right?

Anne said...

Although as much as possible, I try to follow my workout schedule closely...I rarely can get the Wednesday workout in. But, being quite new at this, I'm still please with myself for doing whatever I can. Having never raced yet, I have yet to become too obsessed...perhaps I can answer this question again in a year or two :)

justagirl said...

On the the first program I tried out I got a bit obsessed and it killed me mentally (I did not have a good time towards the end - and this was just for a 5k). Now I am trying to apply all of the above techniques to each week (and my mind is at ease, which I think makes training enjoyable). I find it important to take each day/week as it comes. I was in the car freaking out a bit that my first 10k had to be moved up by two weeks and I thought, "Chill out...you are training. Your body will be prepared." I forget sometimes that training prepares me for the ultimate goal slowly - stage built upon stage (even now when I jog 2.5 miles I get nervous at the beginning). This is the most important reminder for me in terms of a missed workout, that it does not take away from all the preparation I *have* done.

You have a ton of good knowledge! Thank you for putting this out there. I think, even if someone knows the above advice, it is always good to revisit it.

Johann said...

I always focus on the end goal. This will be the main race I'm training for. If I miss a workout I just keep to the plan for the end goal. I stick to that and don't change anything. I carry on with my plan as normal. I've learnt over the years that over time the missed workout is always for the best.

lindsay said...

i tend to skip/cut short workouts often... i'm not proud of it. knowing i need to work hard/log miles to improve - it just makes me moody knowing i didn't have the mental toughness to push it out some days! i try to remind myself that i needed extra rest, or that the fact that i went out and did something counts a little, but i could work on not getting so worked-up about it!

Staci Dombroski said...

If I miss a workout it is usually because things are crazy and I did some kind of excercise in some form. I just let it go and know that I have other days :-) I hope you have a great week!

Running Through Life said...

Great post! If I miss a workout, I try and make it up but am not going to stress about it if I miss it.

fitinthecity said...

Great post! I tend to do the same thing about missed workouts. But I have learned that one missed workout is the end of everything. I think of it as a day for my body to mend and rest.

sunapeegirl said...

I hate missing a run! I try not to obsess too much about it though and make sure I just don't miss any more.

Katie A. said...

Great post! I have gotten a lot better about missed workouts or runs. Before I would go crazy and try to double up or make up the missed mileage the next run and that just lead to over running/training. Now I have learned to spread it out over the week - it's not the end of the world but that is a hard lesson to learn! Happy Running!