Off track? 5 ways to get back on plan (and stay there)
You have been training for your planned fall Healthy Driven Naperville race and have been following your training plan. And then life happened. Whether it was travel, illness, work, family, injury or some combination – now you are off-track. So now what? Here are five tips for getting – and staying on – plan.
- Get back on an adjusted plan. Getting back on plan will be easier the sooner you act. If you were busy and missed a few runs during the week but you completed the week’s long run, you should be fine to continue your plan. If you have missed a few runs (including your long run) but did not miss a full week (and are not injured), just repeat this week’s running plan next week and proceed from there. However, if you find you have missed a full week of training runs (due to a reason other than a running-related injury), ease back into your plan by repeating the previous week in the plan and proceeding from there. In this case, you will probably need to ramp up the distance of your long runs more quickly since you have effectively lost two weeks in your training plan. To do this, add one extra mile to your next long run and then add an addition mile (total of two) to the following long run and continue with the two added miles until you reach your planned maximum distance run (about 14 miles for the half marathon, eight miles for the 10K and four miles for the 5K).
- Pick a new goal distance. If you have missed a full week of training or more due to a minor running-related injury or you have missed two or more full weeks of running training not due to injury, you will likely need to adjust your race goals. If you are a beginner, the easiest way to adjust your goal with the Healthy Driven Naperville races is to drop down to the next shorter distance. If you had been training for the half marathon, drop down to the 10K. If you had been training for the 10K, move to the 5K. If you were already training for the 5K, consider a run/walk or a slower race time goal. Then, transition to a different training plan for your new race distance – look for one online or consult a running coach or running group. If you are an experienced runner and you want to stick with your original race distance, you should adjust your race time goal to something slower.
- Pick a new race date. If you are more seriously injured and/or any pain persists when you return to training after following the above steps, you should seek a doctor’s advice and work with a trainer or running coach to regroup. It is likely you will need to choose a different goal race and allow yourself more calendar time to recover and train safely. You will also need to work on injury prevention. One positive note – Healthy Driven Naperville races will let you defer your race to next year (for a fee) through the end of August.
- Focus on key workouts. Now that you are on a new or revised plan, try to avoid future training adjustments due to missing multiple runs. The best way to do that is to make sure that you run at least one or two of your planned runs each week, especially your long weekend run. This way, if you miss a few other runs in a week, you’ll still be on track for your overall race goal.
- Prevent boredom. Once you are back on track with your new plan and race goals, you will want to redouble your efforts to avoid boredom and burnout to avoid missing key workouts. Here are some tips for keeping the doldrums out of your training plan:
- Ease up (or race!). Take an assessment to determine if your burnout stems from overtraining or from staleness/boredom. If you show symptoms of overtraining – higher than normal resting heart rate, chronic muscle and/or joint aches, persistent fatigue, difficulty in completing normal workouts – it’s time to ease up on your training volume and/or intensity. On the other hand, if you’re feeling bored with your running workouts, it might be time to schedule a short race. A 5K a month or two before your fall race is fine. This short race should help you hone your performance and lift the enthusiasm for your fall goal race.
- Plan long run rewards. Choose a reward that you give yourself only in relation to your long runs. This might be a special pre-run meal, post-run treat or activity, or a special new audiobook or music download to listen to during your run.
- Mix it up. Make sure your training plan has a good mix of pacing, run lengths and terrain. Change the type of cross-training you do occasionally to ensure you don’t repeat the same workouts day after day, week after week.
- Release the pressure! It’s okay to have time goals in key races, but if you find you’re putting undue pressure on yourself to meet time goals in every workout, it is probably time to ease up for a while and focus on just enjoying your runs.
- Create a support system (and use it). Make time for running group activities, they allow you to connect and commiserate with other runners and can give your training a big boost. You can find a running group at your local running shoe store.
Follow the tips above and you will be back to race training in no time.
Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness