Amanda Loudin

Written by Amanda Loudin


5 Reasons to Be Okay With Missed Workouts

We all seem to get busier and busier as the years go by, and this time of year becomes the busiest of all, and finding time to exercise can be almost impossible. How to stay motivated to run during the holidays? Motivation may not be the issue, but finding time to run when you are short on time is the tough part.

Most of us can relate to a scenario that goes a little something like this:

You’re plugging along managing your busy schedule workout plan through a marathon training schedule or 5k training plan, you are heading toward your “A” goal race feeling good.

Everything is going smoothly—you’re hitting your paces, not missing a workout, and getting pumped about that big PR with your name on it.


Your child gets sick and you missed a workout and missed a long run during your marathon training.

Or your job requires you to take an unplanned trip to a conference that will have you hopping morning, noon and night. Those creative ways to find time to run are failing to help.

Perhaps your partner’s job gets crazy busy and you have to pick up the pieces with more childcare than normal, cutting out much of your availability for running as a working mom.

Before you know it, you are taking a week off during marathon training.

Whatever the interruption, there are just times when life is going to get in the way of running.

This is particularly true with parents with young children and masters runners who are often in the thick of career and family lives.

It’s going to happen—you’ll miss a workout because something more important comes up, and if it does, there is no need to panic, you won’t lose as much fitness as you think!

Today we are going to go through five ways to be ok with that, and how you can spin your perspective to feel good about yourself, rather than beating yourself up over those missed running days. Then, we are going to give you some of the best holiday running workouts to use when you are short on time.

During the holidays, we get even busier than the rest of the year, and we might miss runs or workouts. Here are 5 reasons to stay calm when family and work takes over.

How to Handle Setbacks When Running Was Going So Well

As much as all of us love our dedicated run time, we can’t protect it round the clock.

It’s not our job and other aspects of life must take priority.

What’s a runner to do?

First and foremost, make peace with the fact that running is only a hobby and that it’s only one aspect of your life requiring your attention.

You’re going to miss some runs and you have to accept the fact, do the best with the time you have available, and move on.

Beyond that, however, you can mitigate any lost run time with a few simple steps.

Consistency is key

Forty-three-year-old Faye Weaver, of Columbia, Md., is all too familiar with the “life interrupts training” scenarios.

As a mother of four, ages five to 13, and a full-time occupational therapist, it would seem a miracle that Weaver can get out to train at all, but she somehow manages.

And when she doesn’t, she’s learned to be ok with it.

This past winter, in the midst of training for a marathon where she was gunning for a PR, Weaver was involved in a minor car accident that injured her back.

“I was sure that my race was gone and even tried to run through the pain for a while because I am stubborn,” she says. “But eventually I realized that resting was more important than the training.”

After some rest, she got back on track with her training and ended up hitting that PR.

A big part of this is the fact that as long as she can hit her planned training, she does. It’s this consistency that saved her when training wasn’t possible.

What’s the bottom line?

If you are consistent the majority of the time, you can afford a few missed workouts without losing any fitness.

Remember that it takes two weeks of no running at all for your muscles to start experiencing any atrophy.

While training disruptions do happen, it’s rare that they will ever preclude you from all activity for an entire two weeks.

Keep your cool and know that your base will make up for short lapses.

Have a base

Speaking of a base—it is the foundation on which all runners are built.

Ensuring that you have taken the time to build base miles will pay off in a big way should you have to skip some training.

Weaver typically runs 40- to 60-mile weeks—sometimes taking it up to 100 if prepping for an ultra—and that base carries her when she can’t get her runs in.

You don’t have to run that high of mileage for the benefit of a base.

What’s the bottom line?

Each year at the end of your race season/beginning of your next, spend a couple of months building a solid, truly aerobic base.

That will be the key to everything you do in your season and will be the mileage you need to rely on should you face an inconsistency.

(Try to) appreciate the interruptions

There are very few runners who welcome a break in training.

But sometimes you must roll with the punches and have an attitude adjustment.

Learning to embrace, rather than fight, the occasional hiccup in training can go a long way.

Weaver knows this first hand. “I haven’t perfected my system and there are days I get frustrated because I didn’t get a workout in,” she says. “But I also think missing a workout and spending time with family is more important than a PR.”

Take a page out of Weaver’s book and look at the upside to a missed workout.

Perhaps it’s to see a child’s soccer game.

That’s time you would never get back otherwise and your running will not suffer for it.

Or maybe you’re showing your boss that your work dedication is there—that will pay off down the road and again, the running can wait.

What’s the bottom line?

It might be cliché, but sometimes making lemonade out of lemons is exactly what you need to do.

Play with your schedule

Runners are type A and like to follow the schedule as planned.

That’s great and there is definitely value in it.

But when the schedule must go by the wayside, all is not lost.

Weaver has learned to tweak her schedule if needed. “If I miss a workout, I just reassess and see if I can add an extra mile another day,” she says. “If I can’t get the workout in, I know it’s just an added rest day which will help with my training.”

For years this has been my approach as well.

I consider the week ahead and plan out my training.

But it doesn’t always fall into place as expected and when it doesn’t, I just move things around, keeping in mind that I want to space out the hard workouts regardless.

With a little trial and error, you can learn to do the same.

What’s the bottom line?

When all else fails and a workout or two must be missed, take Weaver’s approach and know that the rest won’t hurt—and might just help.

There will be ups and downs

Finally, everyone should look at running as a lifelong adventure and as with any passion worth pursuing, it will bring with it peaks and valleys.

Should you ever truly face a bit of a longer layoff than expected from running due to unforeseen circumstances, understand that you’re after the big picture and it will all work out in the end.

Ever had an injury?

Then you know it’s possible to take a hit in your training and come back strong, especially if you check out our injury prevention page to heal your injuries and get back to running as quickly as possible.

Keep that in mind and draw on the experience the next time you face a layoff.

Weaver, who has been running for years, gets this.

Her advice?

“I would tell others there will be ups and downs in your running,” she says. “Days when you are willing to be flexible and days when you really want that training run.  But you need to be flexible and adjust your plan if life gets in the way. Sometimes, the breaks become blessings to you mentally and physically.”

What’s the bottom line?

Running brings lots of challenges and celebrations, but the more you accept the struggles and trust that another high is just around the corner, the more likely things are to come together for you as you have removed the stress of the circumstance.

[bctt tweet=”When life gets in the way- 5 ways to get the most out of training during a busy time” username=”Runners_Connect”]

RunnersConnect Insider Bonus

Looking for the best workouts to complete when you are short on time?

Download your FREE treadmill workouts guide for Runners inside your Insider Members area.

The guide contains 4 treadmill specific workouts guaranteed to keep you sane and fit during the holidays! You’ll learn about the In-N-Out workout, how to “run like an Egyptian” and get my favorite “green eggs and ham” workout.

Click here to access

Not a RunnersConnect Insider member? It’s FREE to join. Click here to get started

Free Strength Training Course

The Right Way to Add Strength Training To Your Running to Avoid Injury and Improve Performance

Here’s what we’ve got for you

How the “core” actually contributes to your running and which muscle groups are most important for staying injury-free

Which type of strength training exercises are most likely to directly improve your running performance (based on scientific research)

The 5 most common mistakes runners make with strength training (and how you can fix them)


Connect with Jeff Gaudette on Google+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Adding new comments is only available for RunnersConnect Insider members.

Already a member? Login here

Want to become an Insider for free? Register here