Life really gets in the way of training, doesn’t it? I write hundreds of training plans each year. With each one I write, I know full well that it will likely need to be adjusted at some point. Injuries get in the way. Work gets in the way. Nothing ever really works out 100% as you planned or hoped it would.
One of the most common questions I get, even after a training plan consultation, is if days can be switched around when things get busy. The answer is, of course!
Sure, there are certain runs that are best done at given times. But if your plan needs to be moved around, it is better to do that and adhere to your runs and mileage over the course of the week.
Here are a few rules I prefer my athletes stick to:
Aim to keep your long run for the weekend. If this works with your schedule, it is helpful because you will likely have more time to fit it in and hopefully can give yourself a day of rest afterward. If you occasionally need to throw one in the middle of the week to fit it in, that is fine. Otherwise aim for closer to the end of the week or weekend. However, if you have a work schedule that has your weekends falling on Monday and Tuesday, you obviously need to switch your plans around accordingly.
Keep your speed work near the middle of your week. It is best not to do these workouts too soon after your long slow training run or too close to the next one. Typically, a Tuesday or Wednesday speed work session works best with a plan that calls for your long run on the weekend. These runs are spaced out to allow your body (and mind) to recover.
Balance out the rest of your plan with shorter, slow runs. Most training plans will call for shorter runs placed throughout the week. If your plan calls for a short run on Monday and Thursday, but you can’t fit it in then it is totally fine to do it on Wednesday or even Friday. Just make sure you follow the easy pace your plan calls for to keep yourself strong and avoid overuse injuries.
If time is sparse one week, it is okay on a rare occasion to split up a long run. If you know that you can only fit in 12 miles of a 16 miler on Saturday morning, but you know that you can get 4 more in later in the day, go ahead and do it. While this isn’t ideal, I believe it is better to get those miles in on both a mental and physical level. Physically, your body needs those miles and it can actually be great to get those last four in on tired legs. Mentally, I always hate to have an athlete toe the line on race day and question if that short changed 16 miler is going to be the deal breaker.
Remember that life happens. Training plans are a road map but not a set law. Right now as a new mom, I am trying to figure out how to get all of my runs in and it isn’t easy. I am coaching runners and a team and I have new priorities on top of all of this. I originally tried to coach a group on Saturdays and then add the rest of my long run mileage on afterward. I didn’t feel like I was truly getting my full training runs in and I decided to swap my long run for Friday and use the group run as my typical shorter Friday session. Some athletes like having a shorter run following their LSD day. I have never done this before but have actually found that it helps kick the lactic acid out faster. I then have the rest of Saturday and Sunday to recover and by Monday, I feel fantastic. It was a change that so far has actually benefitted my training! Had I stuck to my original plan I would feel like I wasn’t getting strong long runs in and I wouldn’t be enjoying this new found lightness to my step on Mondays.
How do you balance out your training when life gets in the way?