Saturday

Training plan in shambles? Try my 6 suggestions to getting back on track.

Try these 6 suggestions to get yourself back on track.

Get into a training routine long enough and your bound to face a few obstacles. Anyone who's followed a training plan knows that situations come up that take you off course and threaten to derail your fitness effort. Life/family moments, emergencies, injuries and work responsibilities can conspire individually or team up against you. Let your training plan take a beating too long and you risk a loss of fitness and before you know it, lapse in to couch-sitting, channel surfing mediocrity.

Be ready to face training adversity with these simple strategies -

Let whatever is derailing your training run its course. Sometimes life happens and you just have to go with it. We often start to beat ourselves up for not exercising adding stress to the situation. Ask yourself if the added stress of not exercising is making the situation worse. Of course, if  you can slip in a good run or strength session during these times its best to do so. But when you can't you may feel that added stress on top of whatever the situation is you're dealing with. Rather than compound the stress - let it go and try not to worry about your training until the situation is over. Short breaks in training don't necessarily spell catastrophe for your overall fitness.

Get out and start again, start over if you have to. But back off. After even the briefest of time away from your exercise routine it would be wise to return to activity at a slower pace or lower intensity. Jumping back into your training where you left off may sound like a good idea but puts you at risk for injury. Worse, when you notice you're not at the level of fitness you were before the break, you may start to focus on how much you "lost" and risk further discouragement. Instead, give yourself a warm up period, a taper up. Go back in you training journal (you do keep a training journal, don't you?) and find a favorite route or workout from a few months ago and start there. You may want to simply do what feels comfortable for a few days, just to get back into the swing of things. By doing so you'll feel better, reduce risk of injury and build back your confidence.

Work on the parts of your routine you can. Can't make that 10 mile run this week? Missed your yoga class? Too tired for your favorite cardio session? Stop looking at what you can't do and discover what you can do! Find parts of your program that you can do, perhaps at home or at work, and give those movements renewed attention. During a recent injury-related break from running, I was able to focus on my core routine without aggravating my injury.  Doing so let let me feel like I was doing something to keep my routine and level of fitness going in a good direction.

Revisit and revise you goals to adjust for the change. Reality check: based on what you've gone through and whatever it is you're facing now, are your goals still valid? It's a tough question to ask yourself, but it has to be done. I recently lost five weeks of my current training cycle putting my 2:00:00 half marathon goal in jeopardy. Reviewing my goals reminded me that the (original) goal was to finish four half marathons this year (I added a time goal after half #3) and to stay out of the casket if at all possible. Going back to my original goals reminded me that I am still on track to achieve what I had originally set out to do. If your goals don't match todays reality, can you safely ramp up your training to reach them? If the honest answer is yes, then go get after it! If not, retune your goals with the benefit of knowing your overcoming obstacles and still moving forward.

Rewrite your training plan. Rewriting your training plan goes hand in hand with revisiting your goals. Your plan (and you do have a training plan, don't you?) is exactly that, yours. Keep the motivation but dump the stress in your plan. If your goals change, then change your plan to match.

Learn from it. What, if anything, could have prevented the situation in the first place? Can you anticipate future problems? Learning from where you are now is the best way to prevent a "next time" from happening. Add a plan B, a set of alternate routines or optional plans that you can pull out when your training plans go up in smoke. Having a go-to list of training alternatives will save time and decrease stress when you need them.

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