As the proverb goes, it’s not always possible to stick to even our best-laid plans. No matter how dedicated a runner you may be, schedule changes, bad weather, big or small injuries and a myriad other reasons result in missed runs and training days. It could cause you to panic over the fitness you may have ‘lost’. If you’re running for a race or marathon, the gap in training may even result in self-doubt and loss of confidence. The key is to not lose your motivation and compensate wisely. Missed runs can crop up anytime, but here’s how you can ensure that you’re back on track despite the run or two you might’ve missed.
1. Plan ahead and negotiate: Knowing you are going to miss a week or more of training in advance can help you substitute it with smaller workouts. If you can’t go on long runs, try and include running specific workouts to your day that don’t take too long and can be done indoors. If you’re on vacation and can’t go through the whole length of your interval training, opt out and just go for a nice, easy run for 45 minutes without worrying about drills. Do a stair routine if possible, or sign up for walking tours. Being active for 45-60 minutes even 3 times in the week can keep you fit enough to take up your routine when you’re ready.
2. Resist the urge to overtrain: The one rule to making up for lost runs or mileage is that you can’t rush it. Whether you’ve missed training for a day or a week, you cannot make up for that time or mileage by training double or running longer. Instead, that will only hamper your recovery and increase chances of injury, which could mean missing even more training time. Whatever plan you were following had a precise amount of recovery time included in it as an integral part of your workouts. By doubling your run time or adding extra effort, you will be compromising on recovery and not getting the most out of your runs. More importantly, you’re not losing as much fitness as you think. Research shows that missing 6-10 days result in roughly a 5% decrease in fitness, which you can easily recover in 1-2 weeks at your regular pace.
3. Know when to slow down: Work or travel commitments aside, if you’ve missed training due to an illness or running injury, exercise even more caution when you start working out again. Take a full week to gradually ease back into training. This will give your body a chance to fully recuperate. If you experience any old pain, aches or discomfort, remember to stop or slow down considerably. Relapse injuries are far too common among runners, and a lot of them result from pushing too hard too soon.
4. Eat like a runner: Keep eating healthy. Whether you’re sick or just missing time due to work, family or travel commitments, you can use foods to your advantage. Some foods can aid in the healing process of injuries, while avoiding bad calories can make it easier to return to training. When you’re not running, be extra diligent about the foods you eat.
5. Stay positive: For long-time runners, this is often the hardest part about missing training. Don’t give in to discouragement simply because of a few missed runs. Something you cannot control shouldn’t succeed in getting you down. Instead, see the time off as a chance to rest and perhaps see a new place or catch up on a hobby. It’ll be a great feeling when you go back to train and continue working towards your running goals despite the unscheduled break.