How to Get Your Training Back on Track
Photo by rkramer62
What to do when you miss a workout—or three.
by Mary Baum
For most of us, back-to-school means back-to-overscheduling. With summer’s stretched out days shrinking by the minute, we’ve got a plethora of excuses when it comes to training. From skipping one run to watching three days go by, falling off the training wagon happens to everyone—even the most dedicated triathletes.
But breathe. It’s perfectly normal for life to get in the way sometimes. Here are a few tips to get back on track when you think all is lost.
The Damage: One workout
Extra work that piles up over a holiday means you have to stay late at the office. Your usual evening swim? Out the door. Can you count it as your rest day and swim on your scheduled rest day instead? Or should you pop it on top of tomorrow’s run,changing a single workout day into a double?
Missing a single swim isn’t going to set you back too much. It could be the rest your body needs to push harder the next day. Just don’t get used to it. Joe Friel, in his book Your Best Triathlon, advises against trying to make up the missed workouts by cramming more workouts in over the next few days. This can create the potential for breakdown. And if it doesn’t happen regularly, missing a workout isn’t a big deal.
The Damage: Three workouts
On the heels of a busy day at work comes an impromptu late night, and you wake up feeling under the weather. Suddenly, two more workouts go out the window.
Now is the time to ask yourself what the reasons are for your skipped workouts. Understanding the roots of your mini slump will help you know what course of action to take. Are you just being lazy? Give yourself a mental kick or team up with training buddies to get back in gear. If something else is ailing you (like the flu or a sickness being passed around at work), your body needs time to recover and will let you know when you can get back to training.
"Too many people try to work through illness during their training thinking they will lose fitness," says Jeffrey Kline, head coach at PRSFit. He says the stresses of training will only cause your body to break down more and prolong the illness or even make it worse. "If the base is there and you get sick, be smart take a few days to rest, hydrate, eat well and recover. Your body is telling you something, pay attention!"
If you’ve been sick, mark the days off on your calendar as missed, and pick up from there. You’ll come back stronger than if you tried to make up the workouts.
The Damage: One week
You thought you’d get some running and swimming in while on that late-summer family vacation, but it just didn’t happen. Should you just throw in the towel for your IRONMAN training? Absolutely not!
If you have a coach, get him/her to tweak your plan to help you avoid injury and put you in the best place to succeed. If you don’t have a coach, see where you can best move some workouts around. Is your long run and long bike ride this week too much to handle? Pick one or the other to focus on. This could be just the physical (and mental) help your body needs to succeed.
Your body is prepared for the ups and downs of training. You’ll likely start losing some of the finesse (such as a feel for the water in the pool), but you’ll regain your form quickly. After those seven days, your body will be itching for exercise.
The Damage: Two weeks
The two-week mark is where you need to take a step back and ask yourself if your schedule is too hectic to support training for an endurance event like an IRONMAN. If you’re healthy enough to get back to training and your life can support your schedule from this point on, then go for it. Studies show that after two weeks however, your VO2 max is reduced by about six percent. You can get it back to normal in about the same amount of time that you took off, so it’s time to buckle down and give your training the attention it deserves.
Mary Baum is running enthusiast born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She is a certified personal trainer, and blogs about her fitness journey at foodandfunontherun.com.