If you are training for a race, hopefully you are following a training plan, whether it’s one you created yourself, found online, or purchased from a running coach. One problem with static training plans is that they don’t account for life and issues that may come up forcing us to miss a run or workout. If you’re not working one on one with a coach you may not know how to adjust your training plan when you miss a run or workout. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of your training plan and get to the start line healthy and prepared.
Focus on recovering after hard workouts
If you need to move around your hard workout days, avoid placing them back to back. Maybe you were planning to do speed work on Thursday and a long run on Saturday. If you move your speed workout to Friday and still do a long run on Saturday, that’s not allowing your body time to recover. Instead, you could do speed work on Wednesday or move your long run to Sunday. (Just pay attention to how that change will affect the runs leading up to it and after it.) You could also skip your speed workout that week and focus on the long run instead.
Don’t try to “do over” a failed workout
We’ve all had those workouts that just don’t go as planned. Maybe you don’t hit your paces, or have to stop halfway through, or you just don’t feel strong. If this happens, don’t try to do the workout again later that day or the next that. That will just wear you down too much and impact your recovery. A failed workout is often a sign that you need more recovery, so honor that and get some rest.
Try to keep a routine running schedule
If you’re just having one of those weeks where you can’t get in your planned workouts, see if you can still run easy on most of the days you had a run scheduled. Taking extra rest days is totally fine, but if you end up taking a week off of running during your training you may come back feeling sluggish and unmotivated. (Note: sometimes you need a week off! This is more about when you just get out of your routine and skip all your runs because you can’t do exactly what the plan says.)
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The long run is important
When training for long distance races I would rather have an athlete complete their long run over a hard workout if I had to choose. If you have a week that you need to move things around and can’t get in more than one quality workout, it’s usually best to focus on the long run. More advanced runners can even add some harder miles to their long run during certain weeks.
Listen to your body when adjusting your training plan
Isn’t this always the key? It can be really helpful to keep a running journal or some kind of notes about your training where you can track how you feel after each run. If you notice that your speed workouts are wearing you down and you need more recovery, maybe those workouts can be moved to earlier in the week so you can have an extra easy run before your long run. You may also notice that certain kind of workouts are easier for you. If you find that you are constantly feeling worn down or that your workouts don’t challenge you enough, you can adjust your training plan to make your workouts more appropriate.
When in doubt, do less when you adjust your training plan
I think the best rule of thumb with adjusting your training plan is when in doubt, do less. It can be tempting to do more or to push yourself to get in all your planned runs. But it is better to finish your training cycle feeling strong and healthy than injured or burnt out. If you find you are skipping runs all the time, maybe you need to reevaluate your plan and make it fit better into your schedule. But if you need to skip a workout every few weeks that is ok.
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Know what your body needs
Each time you train for a race you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a runner. Keep those in mind as you train for future races. If you are injury prone, you may need to prioritize strength training over runs on some days. If you struggle with endurance you will want to focus on getting in enough very easy miles. When you are making adjustments to your training keep them focused on what will serve you the best, while keeping these other guidelines in mind.
The nice thing about training plans is that there is always room for adjustments, if you know how to make them. But if you ever need help, a running coach can help you through the process!
Do you create your own training plans?
How do you adjust your training plan when you miss a run or workout?
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