So, the plan was simple. Bike/Run brick this morning with a lunchtime swim. Simple days training, or so I thought. Unfortunately this training day was scuppered by an unavoidable hurdle. Where I work we occasionally have to undergo random drugs testing; and yes, today was one of those days. So, rather than go for a lunchtime swim, I ended up peeing into a pot!
So, what do you do, if you have an unavoidable hurdle? Whilst sometimes there is nothing you can do about missing training sessions, there are some principles you can follow to get your training back on track as quickly as possible.
1. Don’t make up for lost training.
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. Squeezing too many workouts too close together cuts into recovery time, meaning you’ll begin your next workout while your muscles are still repairing from the previous workout. This can create a vicious cycle if you’re not careful.
Likewise, adding extra mileage for the sake of hitting weekly mileage totals will usually defeat the purpose of your training plan. For example, a warmup is designed to prepare your muscles for the hard workout ahead, not to build aerobic endurance. Adding mileage to your usual warmup does nothing to advance your fitness. On the same note, recovery training sessions are designed to aid in recuperation by speeding the transport of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to broken down muscle fibers. Training longer on your recovery days doesn’t aid in this process and can actually inhibit recovery.
2. Don’t worry about losing fitness.
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.
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 training for 10 to 14 days, the amount of fitness you lose is insignificant – as little as 3-4%.
Don’t fret if you’re forced to take time off for sickness, injuries or travel. 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.
Many athletes find it difficult to rebound after missing training sessions. It can put you off your routine, or even lose momentum. It takes more than one missed training session to lose significant fitness, so don’t let a missed training session ruin your training schedule.
Follow these basic principles, train wisely and achieve the unthinkable.