Friday, November 18, 2016

5 Steps When Your Training Goes Awry

It happens to the best of us.  We make the best training plans, the ones we know that will work to help us reach new goals.  And then ________ happens.  You fill in the blank, it could be anything.  Most recently for me, it hit during peak training weeks leading up to the New York City Marathon.  I got sick, really sick and work became almost intolerably demanding.  So what do you do when life gets in the way?
Well there goes the calendar!
Step 1 - Determine whether the race is still a good idea or whether you need to pick a new race.  If you're injured, that may sideline you entirely.  If you're healthy, you need to balance what you want and what your body can handle (the longer the distance, the more you need to consider what you can really ask of yourself).  One thing is for sure, it's not worth getting hurt.  There are hundreds of races out there!

Step 2 - Adjust your goals.  Depending on how much time you missed and when, you may need to come to terms with finishing and having fun being your only goal.  For me, I joked that "survival" became my marathon goal.  If you didn't miss that much, you may need a smaller adjustment or consider making an A, B, and C goal for race day.

Step 3 - Plan how to ramp back up.  You likely won't be able to jump back into your calendar as though you didn't have a break.  Ramping up too fast can lead to injuries (and I mean serious injuries, like bad ones).  I didn't get to do all of my long runs for New York - including my 20 miler - but with my adjusted goal, I put in a really solid 16 miler that built my confidence and a mini taper to feel prepared.
Warmer weather options on the left, cooler options on the right.
Step 4 - Manage your emotions.  Try not to get too down about missed training.  If you decided to run, you're going to get to do something amazing.  Find something that will get you pumped!  For me, that was buying a few new potential pieces of clothing to wear depending on the weather.  Aren't new clothes so inspiring?

Step 5 - Run your race, enjoy it, appreciate your body for carrying you through it, and plan for your next race!  If you take it really easy, you might even be able to do a "make up" race sooner than you think.  Reflect on how thing went and consider what adjustments you might want to make the next time around.  We are ALL constantly learning, making mistakes, and getting better.

In the end, New York went great - it was fun and memorable despite my training mishap (and I didn't get injured)!  I'm going to do some things differently next time ... and yes, I have a sneaky feeling there will be a next time :)

I'm linking up with the Friday Five 2.0! Thank you to Fairytales and Fitness and Running On Happy for being fabulous hosts!
What happens to throw a wrench in your training?
What do you do when your training goes awry?


  1. See this is why I don't use a training plan. I can't have an excuse when it doesn't go right...haha. Also if I have a plan and don't stick to it I do feel guilty if I can not fulfill it.

    1. You know, I think you might just be on to something here! You must have a good internal training clock so you just subconsciously know how to get yourself ready for a race :)

  2. All great tips! It's taken me a lot of years to learn some of them, too. Thankfully I've never had to DNS, although I had a few that I procrastinated on signing up for, and in the end, realized it just wasn't in my best interest so I didn't do them.

    1. That's a great record! I've had a few DNSs and they have devastated me. Smart to delay if you can (the extra $10 registration cost for later entry is absolutely worth it if you're on the fence). I seem to end up running a lot of races where you have to sign up the MINUTE they open. I'm a glutton for punishment :)