You shouldn’t try to make up a missed workout–here’s why

It can be challenging to fit consistent running along with a busy life, and sometimes you may have to miss a scheduled run, or several. The nagging guilt when your running plans go awry can be insidious, but don’t let it tempt you into cramming the missed runs back into your schedule. You risk injury, overtraining and burnout. Here’s what you need to know about missing some scheduled training.

Don’t overload to compensate

Just don’t do it. It can be incredibly tempting to try to “make up” your missed workouts by doubling up on time and effort. Most runners already don’t focus enough on rest, and a few extra recovery days will not only not cause a huge setback in your training–you might just find that you feel stronger because of it.

Training plans are designed to be dynamic and adaptable, even though many runners feel like they are set in stone. If you miss a specific workout, it doesn’t mean that progress is lost. Tweaking your future workouts to accommodate the missed session (adjusting the actual running that is scheduled, ie. shifting your plan back a week if you can) can be more beneficial than trying to cram in extra training. If you are really concerned, talk to an experienced runner or coach to help you adjust your training. Just don’t squeeze more running in-adding more stress to an already overwhelmed schedule is a recipe for disaster.

Adjust your mindset

Running is all about the long game. While at the time, missing a few workouts may seem like a setback, in the long run, a bit of extra rest is probably the exact thing your body and mind need. Our bodies don’t differentiate between physical and mental stress, and it’s likely that whatever derailed your training has some form and amount of added stress.

Know that the break you are taking now, while perhaps uncomfortable, will likely be beneficial to you in the long run, and at the very least not detrimental. After all, you probably want to run for years and decades to come. Learning how to successfully navigate challenging times and missed workouts will become one more tool for you to boost your running longevity.

Reflect and move forward

Let that sh*t go, as they say. Recognize that you are doing the best that you can with the skills and supports available to you, even if that doesn’t look the way you’d like it to. Dwelling on what you’ve missed or worrying about lost fitness may actually set you back, as it contributes to burnout.

What can be useful is to look at why, exactly, you missed your workout (s). Were you sick, or were you simply not wanting to run? (Either reason is a valid one, you’re aiming to have no self-judgment here.)  Maybe you were dealing with unexpected family or work stress–these challenges happen to everyone, even the pros, who also, you guessed it–occasionally can’t fit in planned runs.

Looking to the future, can you plan to give yourself more grace and cope more easily through the inevitable challenging times that life throws at us? Maybe there is a plan you can have in place to adjust your training temporarily to accommodate a different schedule, like hitting up a local 24-hour gym for a few sessions (if you must–missing workouts is normal and OK) or simply heading out for shorter runs just to get that healthy physical and mental boost. Make sure that you aren’t overdoing it–the most important thing to remember is that a few missed running days are not worth stressing over.

posted Monday November 13th
by Keeley Milne